The “unity gathering” reconciled Datu Tocao Mastura, former municipal mayor of Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao and former Maguindanao Governor Datu Andal Ampatuan, Maguindanao provincial administrator Norie Unas said.
Mastura is a descendant of the 17th century Moro chieftain Sultan Kudarat and a known leader of Iranon Muslims in Maguindanao.
Datu Andal, leader of the powerful Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao, is the father of ARMM Governor Datu Zaldy Ampatuan.
The two were former allies until Mastura ran for the gubernatorial post of what was then the new province of Shariff Kabunsuan, against Datu Andal’s protégé, Datu Bimbo Sinsuat.
Shariff Kabunsuan was carved out of Maguindanao in 2006 but the Supreme Court last year declared its creation unconstitutional. The SC ruling led to the resignation of the third-termer Maguindanao governor, claiming he has no mandate from the constituents of the abolished Shariff Kabunsuan province.
Unas said ARMM Governor Datu Zaldy Uy Ampatuan brokered the reconciliation of his father with Mastura.
With the governor were Guindulungan municipal Mayor Datu Midpantao Midtimbang and Pagalungan municipal Mayor Datu Norodin Matalam.
Some members of the Maguindanao provincial board, led by Hadji Yasser Ampatuan, also helped mediate.
The Bureau of Public Information of the ARMM quoted Guindulungan mayor Datu Midpantao Midtimbang, as saying the event “should not be perceived as repositioning or realignment of political leaders in the province for the coming 2010 elections.”
But the same ARMM report quoted Midtimbang as saying the father and son — Datu Andal Ampatuan, Sr. and Datu Zaldy — initiated the talks in a bid to place the province under a strong and unified leadership “and set aside political differences so as to fast-track peace and development initiative as enunciated by President Arroyo.”
Earlier this month, the ARMM governor requested Midtimbang to invite the leaders of traditional and political clans in the province to sit down together and discuss unity.
The ARMM report quoted the Ampatuan patriarch as saying, “We have initiated this unity effort because we want to end all political bickering, we want development for our people and we want to prove to other parts of the country and to the world that it is not impossible for Maguindanaon leaders and people to unite for common good.” (Malu Cadelina-Manar/MindaNews)