DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 May) – Mindanao “lost a great visionary, leader, and father” after Secretary Datu Abul Khayr D. Alonto, chairman of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), died of a complication due to pneumonia on Thursday evening at a hospital in Quezon City.
“Mindanao lost a great visionary, leader, and father. Secretary Alonto always envisioned that no one would need to leave their families behind just to find a living. We, in MinDA, will take inspiration from his wisdom and vision as we continue the pursuit for a progressive, peaceful and united Mindanao – in fulfillment of the Mindanao promise,” a statement from MinDA reads.
The secretary had a coronary artery syndrome or blockade of the heart arteries, and had undergone angioplasty procedure at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City where he died around 10 p.m.
MinDA said that Alonto, who chaired one of the factions of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), had dedicated his life to advance the lives of all the Mindanawons and selflessly and relentlessly fought for Mindanao as a true warrior and an advocate for peace.
It said further that Alonto served with passion in ensuring that Mindanao gets its rightful share in the overall development of the country, supported the All Moro Convention’s crafting of the Bangsamoro Constitution, and rallied behind the establishment of the Trans Mindanao Railway System.
“He has always pursued programs and projects with the next generation in mind. He also advocated and championed in the cabinet the Mindanao catalytic programs, and has aligned with the Duterte administration’s vision for a progressive and peaceful Mindanao,” the statement said.
MinDA public relations head Adrian Tamayo said Alonto’s remains was flown to his hometown Marawi City for immediate burial in an Islamic ritual on Friday.
Tamayo said Alonto, known as “a fighter for peace, a diplomat, an advocate of development and a Moro leader,” would be remembered for his “incomparable love for Mindanao and clear vision of a future for all Mindanawons.”
“Salamat Sec. Alonto, you have demonstrated a well-lived life! With my less than a year under your leadership, I found a patriot, a leader, a friend and a hero in you,” said Tamayo.
Appointed on September 9, 2016, Alonto was the first Muslim chair of MinDA and brought to the fore “timely Bangsamoro representation in the overall socioeconomic development of Mindanao.”
According to his profile posted on the MinDA website, Alonto was elected as Marawi vice mayor from 1972 to 1974 and served as acting mayor in 1974 before he joined the MNLF and went “underground” to fight against the abuses committed during the Martial Law regime of the late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
Alonto participated in the institutionalization of the autonomous region in Mindanao more than two years after the signing of the 1976 RP-MNLF Tripoli Agreement.
He was later elected as Assemblyman and sat as the Interim Head of the Regional Autonomous Government and subsequently elected Speaker of the Regional Legislative Assembly, in absentia after he resigned as the Interim Head of the Regional Autonomous Government, according to his profile.
Alonto, in his younger years, had organized the LAM ALIF, a Muslim Youth Group whose members became the core leaders of the MNLF immediately after the March 18, 1968 “Jabidah Massacre,” and the Muslim Federal Party in 1982, which became the rallying flag of the Muslim participation in the protest movement.
He also chaired one of the MNLF factions.
Alonto, who completed his degree in Political Science at the Cairo University in Egypt and Law degree at San Beda College, was appointed as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Chief of Mission to Nigeria and 21 African States in 1994. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)