Maguindanao capitol to rise in Gov. Mangudadatu’s hometown

BULUAN, Maguindanao (MindaNews/20 January) — Provincial officials of Maguindanao on Monday led the groundbreaking rites for the new capitol site in this town.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan approved the transfer of the capitol to a 12-hectare land purchased by the provincial government. The project would cost P500 million.

“Majority of the provincial legislators approved the transfer, recognizing the potential of the place for development, adjacent to vast agricultural land, lakes and marshes that describes the province,” Board Member Bobby Katambak, the proponent of the transfer, said.

Governor Esmael Mangudadatu headed the symbolic dropping of the time capsule witnessed by local and Land Bank officials, contractors and other guests.

In his short speech, Mangudadatu, whose hometown is Buluan, said transferring the provincial seat of government from the capitol in Shariff Aguak town would lessen the tension caused by threats to his life.

“I don’t want to reach a point that we leaders put the law in our hand for revenge. I would rather keep away from trouble,” he said.

When Mangudadatu became governor in 2010, he received advice to hold office in Buluan to avoid further friction with the Ampatuan family, and because of legal questions surrounding the land on which the capitol in Shariff Aguak stands.

Prominent members of the Ampatuan family are the principal suspects in the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre in Ampatuan town that claimed the lives of 58 people including Mangudadatu’s wife and other relatives.

In 1973, the Marcos government created Maguindanao and established its capitol in Maganoy (now Shariff Aguak). The site was transferred to Sultan Kudarat town in early 1980s under then governors Sandiali Sambolowan, Zacaria Candao and Norodin Matalam. It was transferred back to Shariff Aguak in 1998 under the late governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., who built a P120-million capitol complex near his private residence.

The state-of-the-art capitol building will resemble the White House in Washington and serve as the commercial center of the province.

It will have two buildings, one for the provincial executive edifice and another for a three-storey building housing a mall-like commercial zone at the ground floor, a 200-room hotel on the second floor, and a BPO center on the uppermost floor.

“We start today the initial segment of a package of development initiatives to achieve institutional governance, inclusive economic productivity and environmental landscape reflective of our resilience for progress,” Mangudadatu said at the symbolic ceremony.

In a press conference, provincial engineer Abdulrahman Asim and provincial budget officer Lynette Estandarte said the P300-million loan segment for the new capitol complex, P50-million land acquisition and landscape will be augmented with P150 million from the provincial government’s general funds.

In 2014, Land Bank approved P1.740-billion loan application from the province. The amount was broken down to P300 million for construction of permanent capitol complex, P50 million for acquisition of land and landscaping works, P200 million for purchase of dredging machine and heavy equipment, P50 million for new provincial jail construction, P400 million for road networks, P500 million for agro seedlings procurement, P90 million for nursery, P100 million for educational assistance, and P50 million for program equity.

LBP-Buluan branch manager Charity Ponteres and her counterparts in nearby areas witnessed Monday’s ceremonial groundbreaking, assuring the provincial government of their bank’s assistance.

She cited the Mangudadatu administration’s exemplary payment of loans amounting to several million of pesos that it inherited from the previous administration. (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)