Mar Roxas proclaimed datu by Lanao sultanate
MARAWI CITY—His dream is to become President of Asia’s largest Roman Catholic country. But for now, he is happy to settle for the title of datu.
In a simple ceremony, former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas—the administration candidate in the May presidential election—was enthroned as datu by the sultanate in Lanao del Sur province, a title he hopes would help him secure the vital Mindanao vote in this strife-torn region.
Accepting the honorary title, the Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer acknowledged the festering problem of insurgency in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and vowed to work to eradicate the security threat by boosting the local economy.
“There can be no peace without development and there can be no development and progress without peace,” Roxas told leaders of the Federation of the Royal Sultanate of Lanao, a group of 16 royal houses formed in 2010.
He was received warmly by the Lanao sultans, one of whom introduced him as the “incoming President of the Philippines.”
They hung a medallion of honor around his neck, conferred on him the Amai Pakpak Award—so named after a Maranao hero—and presented him with a plaque as an adopted son of Lanao.
‘Clean, honest life’
Datu Amai Pakpak is the most well-known Maranao leader who heroically fought the Spanish colonizers twice, first in 1891, when he was defeated, and then in 1895, when he and most of his warriors, perished.
Resistance against the Spaniards was carried out by the Maranao all over the province but only the battles fought by Amai Pakpak have been recorded.
Responding to the accolade, a visibly touched Roxas swore an oath as an honorary member of the federation, saying he and his family would never forget the recognition.
“It is both a huge honor and a huge responsibility to live and lead a straight, clean and honest life,” he said.
Won’t happen again
Roxas’ visit to this part of Mindanao, under heavy guard by military and police escorts, was his first since he declared his candidacy for President last year.
He was also to visit Buluan town in neighboring Maguindanao province, 57 kilometers from the site of the Jan. 25, 2015, Mamasapano debacle.
Addressing supporters in the provincial capitol, Roxas only made a veiled reference to Mamasapano, telling the crowd he would make sure the “unfortunate thing that happened” would not happen again.
Roxas also chose not to talk about the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which is still languishing in Congress, having been derailed by the Mamasapano massacre.
Of the officials present, including ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman and Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr., only Nariman Ina Ambolodto, a senatorial candidate of the LP, talked about the BBL during the program.
Future of BBL
“I am still praying that the BBL will be passed under the Aquino administration,” she said. “If it is passed, Secretary Mar will carry on the legacy, and the gains we have reached will continue.”
Roxas was the interior secretary during the clash in Mamasapano, which left 44 Special Action Force (SAF) operatives and 17 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters dead. With a report from Inquirer Research
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