Marawi City―The Maranao people should be united by efforts to revive this city in renewed trade links with neighboring provinces, instead of trying to win the attention of President Rodrigo Duterte in a bid for local political support.
Lanao del Sur Vice Governor Mamintal “Bombit” Alonto Adiong Jr. said this days before the May 13 elections, adding his province has its share of modern-day development with the opening of news roads that connect its people to major markets of other provinces.
Adiong says his works as head of the province’s Sangguniang Panlalawigan is not being compromised by time he spends campaigning for the gubernatorial seat, one day at a time in Lanao del Sur’s 40 towns and more interior barangays.
During the opening of the Sagonsongan-GMA Terminal Diversion Road, an alternative route from Marawi City to Iligan City, Adiong said connecting people is improving not only trade relations but also cultural ties amid growing biases on the Muslims, resulting from some misguided declaration of misdeeds by extremists claiming to fight for Islam.
He noted that Wao, the only Christian-dominated town of Lanao del Sur, used to be secluded from the rest of the province being only accessible via Bukidnon.
But now, a new road has just been opened, directly connecting Marawi and Wao, a World War II settlement granted by Senator Sultan Alawiya Alonto, the vice governor’s great grandfather, to Christians from the north.
He said he had lobbied for such projects with the Department of Public Works and Highways in 2014 and its construction began in 2015.
Adiong has been accused of vote-buying by Lanao del Sur lawyer Salic Dumarpa, bringing along affidavits of 700 alleged residents of the province to Malacañang and the Manila media.
Dumarpa is a perennial political rival of Adiong.
“Although this is a serious allegation, it should be noted that this smear campaign is headed by a political rival from way before,” the vice governor said.
“Black propaganda is inherent or a usual activity in all political campaigns during election period. Allegations such as these should be discussed at a proper and legal forum, and not via social media or trial by publicity,” he added.
“Besides, there are no complaints filed at the Comelec (Commission on Elections) at this moment regarding candidates buying votes of the people,” Adiong said.
“Whoever gets elected as Governor of this province will have an exciting time,” he added. “My mother (incumbent Governor Bedjoria Soraya Alonto Adiong) has continued many programs, projects and activities, which I started during my nine-year stint as Governor, and she has also initiated her own PPAs (projects, programs and activities) which will be good to sustain.”
The completion of the Wao Road also provides an alternative route to Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro and Lanao del Norte, 9.56-kilometer transcentral road that is also designed to decongest Marawi City of traffic volume, he noted.
Neighboring municipalities are also connected by concreted provincial, municipal and barangay roads and bridges, the candidate said.
By “unity” among Maranaos, Adiong was referring to accusations brought to Manila by a candidate, he said, “who apparently hid his bid for the gubernatorial post in the guise of moral advocacy.”
Adiong said his rival must have thought that destroying his and his family’s reputation with the national leadership was the only way to get even in local politics.
He said the people of Lanao Sur “will not remember a candidate for a bill of P500,” but for all that which she or he had delivered “in concrete terms.”
These include works like barangay halls, multi-purpose buildings, covered courts, gymnasiums, solar driers, markets, water system, school buildings, sidewalks, public toilets, and the conduct of medical missions, livelihood training, relief distributions, and rido or family feuds settlements and relief distribution to internally displaced persons.
Adiong, being an engineer by profession, noted he is a volunteer supervising construction engineer for 1,500 temporary shelters for IDPs of the Marawi siege.
“If Allah the Almighty gives me the opportunity to serve again as governor of Lanao del Sur, I will continue implementing infrastructure development projects all over the province,” Bombit said.
He said Marawi rehabilitation would be sped up as funds for the Task-Force Bangon Marawi―pursuant to the Bangsamoro Basic Law―will be placed under the management and control of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim, but which is also subject to policies drawn up by an Intergovernmental Financial Management Board, headed by the Secretary of Finance.
“What I am also enthusiastic about are the partnerships formed with international development agencies, non-government organizations, humanitarian agencies and other development-oriented groups by my mother as these shall pave the way for peace and development, tourism and economic livelihood,” he said.
“I believe it is very much possible for Lanao del Sur to have a strong economy with accurate data gathered, sound policies and plans formulated, and effective programs implemented,” Adiong added.
The vice governor said they are now waiting for the results of the socio-economic profiling we are conducting with the Mindanao State University, as well as the results of the research the United Nations Development Programme is currently conducting that would get the socio-economic profile and risks and vulnerabilities to calamities and disasters of eight pilot municipalities.
“The accurate data equals the right policies and programs that would eventually lead to a peaceful and economically-sustaining province,” he said.
‘Failure of elections’
Dumarpa’s group is allegedly backed by two Maranaos retired military and police officials, who reportedly had asked President Duterte to declare failure of elections―unusually way ahead of the May 13 elections.
“Opportunists must not be allowed to destroy our cherished democracy. The people should decide. Let us allow stability, peace, and development to flourish in Lanao del Sur,” Adiong said.
In a recent Provincial Peace and Order Council Meeting, both Col. Romeo Brawner, Jr. of the 103rd Brigade, and PSSupt. Madzgani Mukaram, Director of the Lanao del Sur Provincial Police Office underscored the province’s relatively stable peace and order situation during the campaign period.