COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/24 June) — This was his “second life” as he called it, and he credited a Yakan who did not know him for donating a kidney for transplant. This was years back, and he did not forget and he was further energized to fight for reform.
In his last months, the 63-year old Maranao civil society leader Hadji Abdullah “Lacs” Dalidig, suffered almost half a year of hospitalization yet managed to go to rallies, speak in the Senate rally grounds on the ARMM Synchronization Law early last year, conversed with Senators even if he was losing breath, walked with the youth activists in lobbying per Senator at the Senate in lobbying a vote for the ARMM election postponement.
On his last day, he was able to pray Tahajjud, read the Qur’an, following his main slogan “from haram to halal,” (from fraud to clean and honest elections).
To Abdullah Dalidig I owe unconditional gratitude in a Lanao father, adviser, who believed I should enter public office, maybe thinking I could extend his advocacies in the Regional Legislative Assembly (RLA).
So Kaka Lacs, this one’s for you, for even if I didn’t text you anymore (in coming to Cotabato to see me, be with me, be a pillar, a monitor) knowing of your weakening condition, you grew braver by the day, warning us of the trappings of authority.
You did not want to join government and continued to lobby your proposed Ranaw Advisory Council for support. I will remember this as we RANNers in government must never forget where we came from.
Lacs, TV and street personality, was one of a kind. The unyielding chairperson of the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) in Lanao del Sur, he blew the whistle on alleged 2004 cheating operations there, having appeared in five Senate Hearings. He was a grandfather of 15 and father to three.
He was husband to a supportive soft-spoken wife, Fatima of the same hometown of Wato. A sister in law describes Lacs to have been forthright even against relatives in his campaign for reform even to target relatives-teachers who were subject of reforms by the Department of Education. He raised the bar of respectability for the lowly civil society in Bangsamoro Lanao society speaking alongside politicians even ahead of them before the media.
His legacy is several petitions that will be engraved as sources of electoral “jurisprudence.” He stood up when others couldn’t and spoke relentlessly almost every week on TV against tradpols (traditional politicians) and bad governments.
Former Congressman Benasing Macarambon says Senator Franklin Drilon’s resolution on nullifying the present book of voters in ARMM is inspired by Lacs’ Comelec petition published as one page in the Inquirer. Sen. Drilon, principal author of Republic Act 10153 that moved the ARMM elections from last year to 2013, said that Joint Resolution 17 orders the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to immediately conduct a new general registration of voters in all the municipalities and cities in the region.
But even in his last months, Lacs suffered yet refused his family’s proddings to leave the civil society work behind. He wore a mask in public functions to avoid infection. His family could not stop him from leaving the hospital bed despite their exasperation. So Dr Asnawi Dalidig, his son, said, “let him be” (in attending civil society fora) . “This is where he belongs, the fight for reforms,” the son said. He quoted his dad as saying, “if I should die, let it be in this state (of fighting).” (Samira Ali Gutoc, a former journalist, is now an OIC Assemblywoman in the Regional Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, representing the women sector).