Mutilan: ‘let’s solve Mindanao problem within our lifetime’

“It is hoped that we can sign an agreement this year,” he told the forum.

Those may have been the last, or among the last public pronouncements of Mutilan, chair of the Ulama League of the Philippines, mayor of Marawi City from 1988 to 1992; three-term governor of Lanao del Sur (1992 to 2001); and  former Vice Governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Mutilan did not live to see the problem “solved.”

The Muslim religious scholar and political leader, who also served briefly as a member of the government peace panel in the negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), died in a vehicular accident early this morning (December 6), while on his way to Cagayan de Oro from Marawi City, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said.

Dureza described Mutilan as “a giant in our peace development advocacy in Mindanao.”

“Am flying his body to Marawi by Huey,” said Dureza, who was in the hospital in Cagayan de Oro where Mutilan was brought.

Mutilan’s remains will be buried before dusk, in accordance with Islamic rites.

Mutilan, holder of masteral and doctoral degrees in theology and Islamic philosophy from universities in Cairo, spent 11 years in Japan as a missionary before returning to Lanao del Sur.

He surprised traditional politicians not only in his province but also nationwide in 1988 when he ran under Ompia, a local party without money but popular among the grassroots.

From there, he ran and won the post of governor for three terms from 1992 to 2001.

As ARMM Vice Governor from 2001 to 2005, he was also Education Secretary. He ran for ARMM governor but lost to Datu Zaldy Ampatuan in 2005. Lanao del Sur was the only province where Ampatuan lost the gubernatorial post to Mutilan.

In a statement for the BUC and co-convenors, Davao City Archbishop Fernando Capalla  said they are “saddened by the untimely death” of Mutilan.

“We pray that the All-Merciful and Compassionate Allah will receive him and give him the reward he deserved,” Capalla said.

Mutilan, he added, “certainly deserved to be rewarded with a peaceful rest with his Creator the God of Peace for in life he had been actively involved in the promotion of peace and development as a city mayor, provincial governor, vice-governor of ARMM, president of the Ulama League of the Philippines, and co-convenor of the Bishops-Ulama Conference.”

The BUC, Capalla said, “has lost a valuable and sturdy pillar in its peace-building efforts in the sudden departure of Dr. Mahid M. Mutilan.”

Capalla extended his group’s “prayers and heartfelt condolences to his family and the Ulama League of the Philippines.”

Amina Rasul, convenor of the Philippine Council on Islam and Democracy, said “let us pray for our brother and remember him for the good he has done for ARMM and for all Muslims.”

Rasul said Mutilan was “a voice for tolerance and moderation. He succeeded in putting Islamic education on the agenda of policy makers. He succeeded in organizing our ulama to engage the majority in interfaith dialogues as well as in politics.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)