Mindanao sultanates support peace efforts, federalism

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/23 February) – Sultanates in Mindanao on Thursday declared support to the peace efforts and proposal for a shift to a federal form of government of the Duterte administration.

The sultanates issued their stand during the “1st Grand Summit of the Confederation of Royal Sultanates in Mindanao” which carried the theme “In Unity There is Strength, In Solidarity, There is Peace” at the Davao Convention Center.

Sultan Kudarat Rep. Suharto T. Mangudadatu told reporters that the gathering is essential to the success of the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

He said that although the sultans no longer exercise political powers, as traditional leaders, they still command respect among the Moro people that dates back to the pre-colonial period.

He said that the traditional leaders have formed a confederation to strengthen the Moro people to ensure the success of the peace efforts with the MILF and the MNLF.

“The Mindanao Sultanates believe in the Duterte administration and are very positive about his leadership to bring change in Mindanao and the entire Philippines,” he said.

Datu Manaros Simbaan, of the Royal Sultanate of Masiu, said that the convergence is “a symbol of unity” among the traditional leaders who seek peace and development in Mindanao through the government’s peace efforts and push for a shift to federalism.

He said he was disappointed when the Aquino administration downplayed the role of the sultanates and excluded them in the crafting of the abortive Bangsamoro Basic Law.

“All stakeholders of Mindanao must be represented in order to know the strategy to succeed in the peace process. The sultanates – they are the chieftains of their communities where they can express the real sentiment of their own people,” he said.

“Although we do not have the power like a barangay captain, mayor, governors, but when it comes to our families, our clans, we have a say because they listen to us,” said Datu Tungko Saikol, a sultanate of Raja Buayan. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)