Buluan, Maguindanao—Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu has administered the oath of public office for Vice Mayor Victor Samama as the 19th mayor of Datu Piang, Maguindanao, a historic district of the Old Cotabato Empire Province.
Mangudadatu said the vacancy of the mayoral post-Samama assumed naturally emerged and the “operation of the law of succession” applied following the death of Mayor Genuine Kamaong last Aug. 29.
Also sworn-in to office was Municipal First Councilor Dacoma Wawa, who took Samama’s place as vice mayor pursuant to Republic Act 7160, the Local Government Code.
He requested Samama and the other incumbent Datu Piang officials “to consider nominating a member of the family of the late Mayor Genuine” to the Municipal Council, in deference to kinship.
Samama said he would focus on reforms, advocacy for unity and the continuance of the programs, particularly infrastructure projects, left half-way through in the administration of the late mayor.
“You are closely related to each other by blood and the finest thing that you could opt for is to unite,” Mangudadatu told the party of Samama and his fellow officials, and kindred who came along from as far as Cotabato City, Talayan, Datu Piang to show support.
Kamaong, Samama’s paternal cousin, succumbed to a lingering ailment at a hospital in Davao City. The late mayor had occupied the position since 1994, by becoming a successor twice, first to the late Mayor Datu Ben Mokalid in 1994 and to Mayor Hadji Mama Uy in 2010.
Kamaong was elected in 2013 and in 2016 with Samama as his vice-mayoral teammate.
The new mayor was joined in by his immediate and extended families—among them, his wife Dr. Elizabeth Sanchez Abpi-Samama, and siblings Rajah Buayan Municipal Treasurer Farida Samama-Ampatuan; Baidido Samama, Sirikit Samama-Butt; Eddie Boy, and Noel Samama, cousin Bai Tarhata Ampatuan; niece Bai Sarip Sirikit Ampatuan-Bernan, and uncle Ricky Yap Piang, barangay chairman of Poblacion Datu Piang.
Victor’s father the late Datu Mentang Piang Samama had probably the longest term as mayor of Datu Piang (1951-1956; 1963-1976). The Abpis, the younger Samama’s in-laws, are a family of educators and businesspersons.
It was said that twice had the martial law military planned to place the town under siege of ground and air assaults in 1973.
This was when false rumors spread all over, purporting that the town’s Christian residents were allegedly being “persecuted,” and “nuns were raped” in a “desecrated” Catholic school convent.
The elder Samama is best remembered for having successfully halted such a plot by close engagement with his constituents, who would faithfully deny the false reports in subsequent dialogues with the military.
Former Vice Governor Datu Antao Midtimbang who is looked up to as an elder among traditional and political leaders also urged the parties and families wedged by local politics to work as one in the tutelage of Governor Mangudadatu whom he described as the “steward of inclusive leadership.”
“For as long as Governor Datu Toto Mangudadatu steers us close to what Islam prescribes of leaders and leadership, then I urge you to embrace the principle laid down by the Qur’an before us: ‘Obey God; obey the prophets and obey those who are in authority over you’,” Midtimbang said in the vernacular.
Midtimbang said the old Datu Piang patriarch “did not actually rule the people, but that he befriended them as their leader.”
He said in Islam, two prayers are granted unconditionally: 1) prayers of a just leader; and 2) the constituents’ prayer against an unjust leader.
Except for Mayor Mutin Ampatuan in 1945, all elected and appointed executives of Datu Piang, formerly Dulawan, had been descendants of Datu Piang after whom the place has been named. Known as the Grand Old Man, Datu Piang, ruler of Cotabato Valley under the Moro Province (1900 – 1930), was once described by an American writer as the richest and the most influential Moro leader of his time.