Maguindanao gov’t starts construction of new capitol complex

John Unson (Philstar.com) - January 19, 2016 - 8:01pm

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - The provincial government on Monday started constructing a new capitol complex on a roadside lot near scenes of ambush attacks in the 1970s to highlight there is fragile peace now in Maguindanao province.

Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu on Monday told reporters present in the groundbreaking ceremony for the more than P300 million worth provincial capitol complex project in Buluan town the land where the new buildings are to rise was also once a dumping ground of cadavers of victims of summary executions perpetrated outside of the municipality.

“One of those killed here was my school teacher,” said Mangudadatu, who led the inaugural rite for the construction of a new provincial capitol along a highway straddling through Buluan in the second district of Maguindanao.

Mangudadatu and other dignitaries present in the event were optimistic the colossal project would put an end to what is for them “uncertainty” on where the permanent seat of the provincial government should be, an issue hounding local communities since 1974.

The complex, to rise along a national highway straddling through the new provincial capital, Buluan, shall be comprised of offices for Mangudadatu and his subordinate-division chiefs and other service facets needed to hasten the delivery of services to all sectors in Maguindanao.

Mangudadatu said they will also establish a call center within its premises, which can employ scholars of the Maguindanao Program for Education and Community Empowerment (MagPEACE).

The MagPEACE, bankrolled by the office of Mangudadatu, has more than 5,000 scholars now studying in different colleges in Mindanao.

Maguindanao’s provincial engineer, Abdulrakman Asim, told reporters a big fraction of the budget for the new provincial capitol complex shall be drawn from a peace and development loan package the governor’s office recently availed from the Land Bank of the Philippines.

Maguindanao province, which has 36 towns, was created in 1974, carved out of the American-era Cotabato Empire Province, whose capital was in the old Pagalungan municipality, near what are now North Cotabato’s Pikit and Kabacan towns.

The first capitol of Maguindanao was in Shariff Aguak, transferred later to Sultan Kudarat, following the appointment of a caretaker provincial governor, Zacaria Candao, after the infamous 1986 EDSA I “People Power Revolution” that ousted then President Ferdinand Marcos, whose post was taken over by Corazon “Cory” Aquino.

Another provincial capitol was again established in Shariff Aguak after the controversial Andal Ampatuan Sr. was elected provincial governor in 1998.

Ampatuan, however, built the new P98 million worth capitol on a piece of land owned by his clan, without any written deed of donation conceding ownership of the estate to the government, a basic requirement set by the Commission on Audit.

“This new capitol complex project in Buluan will solve the issue on where the provincial capitol should be. We shall have a complex here from where delivery of services to Maguindanao’s Muslim, Christian and Lumad people will come from,” Mangudadatu said in a message during the groundbreaking rite Monday.

The provincial board had earlier passed a resolution naming Buluan town as the new provincial capital of Maguindanao.

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