Dureza: Aleem Mimbantas, Mindanao's loss-A A +A
Monday, May 7, 2012
ALEEM MIMBANTAS. The vice chairperson of the MILF and a respected religious leader in Lanao died a few days ago of heart attack. Aleem Mimbantas was an Islamic religious guru who was revered by Muslims here and elsewhere. He was buried in Butig in Lanao beside the graveyard of his close bosom friend, the late Hashim Salamat, the founder and imminent leader of the MILF.
Aleem was so close to the late Hashim that when the latter escaped from the Liguasan Marsh area in Cotabato during the military raid of Buliok in Pikit, he sought refuge in Aleem Mimbantas' haven in Lanao in Camp Busra. It was in his care that the chairman died and was buried in Butig. I was told Aleem himself wished to be buried beside his friend and close confidante. The late chairman Hashim trusted him so much that everyone thought Aleem would be his successor. Kagi Murad, however, prevailed with Aleem Mimbantas providing full support in the consolidation effort.
I met Aleem Mimbantas many years ago in Camp Abubakar during my visit at the height of the fighting then between the government and the MILF. We were chatting indoors while we watched his armed troops coming all the way from the Lanao mountains march into the camp in Maguindanao in Central Mindanao. He led a big group of armed combatants as reinforcements to help defend the MILF camp.
For a while, he served briefly as chairman of the MILF peace negotiating panel but he relinquished it shortly thereafter. Due to his leadership, he was able to firmly whip into line some "erring" MILF elements, including Commander Bravo.
Although he was a fundamentalist Islamic leader and schooled in Cairo, Egypt with his classmate Hashim Salamat, Aleem Mimbantas was a moderating factor in the bangsamoro struggle for self-determination. I recall various occasions when government reached out to him and sought his wise counsel and intervention during critical times.
Who will replace him and fill his shoes in Lanao is not yet clear. The Front will have also to choose its new vice chairman with his passing. My sense is that it will be difficult to find someone of his stature and caliber.
Mindanao just lost a leader. Too bad he did not see the dawn of peace in his homeland.
POWER PROBLEM. It's good to hear Mindanaoans will lead in consolidating efforts to address the power shortage. MinDA is the logical lead agency and it will move things quickly if given full support by the national government.
I know many investors are wary to go into the power sector not only because of the big investments required. The big "turn off" is simply the agony of waiting for permits to be approved, if at all. The proposed "one stop shop" to process approvals will change things. Let's get this done quickly. Then we will see a long line of investors rushing in.
MILITARIZED. Now that China is flexing its military muscle in the territorial dispute on the Scarborough Shoal, we are now feverishly seeking help from others. That's what we get for militarizing the issue. We started it all. I remember President Ramos repeatedly warning and shouting to the four winds about it.
We, however, triggered it when Malacañang sent our BRP Gregorio del Pilar warship to confront the Chinese fishing vessels. Now, while we, of course, have to uphold our territorial rights and our daunted Filipino pride and dignity (if not machismo), we appear so helpless in the eyes of the world. Even our AFP naval forces were publicly humiliated with splashes of big waves by threatening maneuvers of China's marine forces.
But this is now water under the bridge. Our national pride is now at stake. We must now all rally behind our government to fight for our rights. I have a few motorized bancas, just in case.
MEDIA FORUM. On Thursday, May 10, a media forum to tackle libel and the proposal to decriminalize libel will be held at the Ateneo de Davao audio visual hall with media practitioners attending. This is open to all mediamen and interested sectors. We thank the Thomas Jefferson Library of the US Embassy and Ateneo for supporting the Philippine Press Institute event. It will start at 9:00 a.m.
TIDBITS. I met former executive secretaries Ed Ermita and Rene de Villa at Aguinaldo golf course last Friday. They both still looked in their prime. “Retired but not retarded,” Ed chimed in. I was in a golf flight with Bishop Ephraim Tendero of the UCCP and Tim Colliver (a businessman helping our lumads in the south). Bishop Ephraim, however, had to cut short his game due to his wife Sheiry's sudden hospitalization. We pray for her early recovery.
We mourn the passing away of our Ninang, Corazon Nunez, wife of former Times Editor Chuck Nunez, and our friend Helen Christensen Garcia of Davao del Sur.
Remember Jon Linborg former Chief of USAID in the Philippines? He retired from that American agency and is now ADB Country Director in Indonesia. He just connected with me through Facebook.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 08, 2012.