By Nash B. Maulana
BULUAN, Maguindanao—A drug-crazed assailant could break a hard stand to uphold the right to life.
Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said he learned this lesson the hard way, even if he valued life “very much.”
On Thursday, Mangudadatu publicly declared for the first time that a man he had personally helped attempted to rape a close member of his family because of the ill effects of shabu or methamphetamine hydrochloride.
Maguindanao has 12,775 surrendered drug users and peddlers. Of its 36 towns, Datu Odin Sinsuat has the most number of surrenderers at 1,366, followed by Sultan Kudarat (875), and Parang (833). A drug-crazed man was also arrested in Parang for incestuous child rape.
Mangudadatu said because of the attack on his immediate family, he realized that some compelling circumstances could alter one’s firm stand in upholding the right to life.
“Out of rage, I found myself suddenly pulling a handgun from the bag of one of my bodyguards. But one of them drew a gun ahead of me and shot the man. My uncle had wanted to put up ‘blood money’ [meaning the man was killed]. But when I explained what really happened, the old man said, ‘Then let’s be watchful if he has any companion left watching us somewhere here,” Mangudadatu recalled.
Still, the governor said, he was not endorsing outright killing to address the local drug problem, but he urged the people of Maguindanao to follow due process, and to continue supporting the anti-illegal drugs campaign.
He told participants of the Masa-Masid (Mamamayang Ayaw sa Anomalya; Mamamayang Ayaw sa Iligal na Droga) Convention here that he had also charged and jailed persons involved in unscrupulous drugs trade.
Cavite Vice Governor Jolo Revilla attended the convention.
Even in the bloodiest incident that dragged the province into international headlines, Mangudadatu said he has opted for legal action over engaging in a “rido” (clan feud) after the 2009 Maguindanao massacre.
The gruesome killing of 58 people, including members of the Mangudadatu family, and 33 media workers on November 23, 2009, placed the governor’s political rivals, members of the Ampatuan family, into detention, while awaiting trial on murder charges.
But Mangudadatu said drugs “almost ruined” his relative’s life. “Any parent could not bear to see a child suffer from such a frightening experience for the rest of her life.”
In 2015, a young female working student of a local Islamic school was gang-raped. Based on police reports in Buluan, the suspects were sons of locally-known families.
Mangudadatu said the suspects, and other drug-related offenders who were also members of an influential family here, have been jailed.
He said if he did not take the suspects away from “shabu snipping” to detention, their children could also end up being illegal drug users.
Instead, the governor said, some of the suspects’ children that he had sent to school on the provincial government’s scholarship program have now earned college degrees.
He said education was the only key for the province’s young people to become competitive, and help it gain elusive peace.
“Without education, we cannot achieve a just peace,” Mangudadatu said.