Maguindanao’s new leaders to hold office in old capitol

BULUAN, Maguindanao (MindaNews/16 May) – Maguindanao’s newly-elected governor and vice governor will have the old capitol in Sultan Kudarat town rehabilitated so they can hold office there.

Governor-elect Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu says they still do not know what the present capitol’s use would be – as museum, as an office of a government agency.

The Shariff Aguak capitol is located some 400 meters away from the mansion of Datu Andal Ampatuan, Sr., Maguindanao governor from 2001 to 2009.

On Friday Vice Governor-Elect Ismael “Dustin” Mastura told MindaNews the Capitol in Shariff Aguak town “stands on private land.” He said they want to know who owns the land.

Mastura said they will probably hold office for six months in the Shariff Aguak capitol in the second district of Maguindanao while the old capitol in the first district is rehabilitated.

The last time the Sultan Kudarat provincial capitol was used was during the Candao used that office but had a new capitol in Shariff Aguak constructed following an alleged attempt on his life in the 1st district, where the old capitol is located.

The Ampatuans’ turf is Shariff Aguak or what used to be Maganoy, a town that has since been divided into several towns. It is located along the Cotabato-General Santos highway. The Masturas’ turf is in the Sultan Kudarat area along the Davao-Cotabato highway while Mangudadatus’ turf in Buluan is along the Makilala-Tacurong highway.

The three-storey P218-M provincial capitol in Shariff Aguak, P25-million of which came from the President’s Social Fund, was finished in 2007 with the Commission on Elections holding office on the ground floor (it is now in a separate building but still within the Capitol compound).

The Capitol was inaugurated only on March 27, 2009, with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in attendance.

The office of the governor of the country’s third poorest province is on the third floor. It has three living room sets, a conference table for 16, a bathroom solely for the governor. Near the governor’s huge executive table is a door leading to a bedroom with an adjacent bathroom that has a Jacuzzi whirlpool tub. The office also has a kitchen and dining area, adjacent to an even bigger conference hall.

The mansion of the patriarch, 400 meters away, has a “satellite office” or “sub-office” complete with a huge conference table, fax machine and other office equipment. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)