MinDA chair Alonto passes away at 73

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 09 May) – Secretary Abul Khayr Dangcal Alonto, chair of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), passed away Thursday night in a government hospital in Quezon City. He was 73.

His first cousin, Robert Marohombsar Alonto, told MindaNews late Thursday night that Secretary Alonto succumbed to pneumonia.

Romeo Montenegro, MinDA’s Deputy Executive Director told MindaNews Friday morning that Alonto was admitted two weeks ago after complaining of chest pain. He underwent an angiogram and was found to have blocked coronary arteries. “Angioplasty was done but complications with lung problem worsened his condition since Wednesday,” he said.

Secretary Abul Khayr Alonto, chair of the Mindanao Development Authority, passed away on 9 May 2019 in a government hospital in Quezon City. MindaNews file photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Montenegro said Alonto’s remains were flown early Friday morning to Laguindingan airport in Misamis Oriental, “then to Marawi where burial in accordance to Islamic law will be made around noontime today.”

Montenegro, who was in Manila to attend meetings on Alonto’s behalf, “was there last night with his family on his last breath.”

Secretary Alonto, son of Lanao’s first governor who was later appointed as ambassador, studied Political Science at the Cairo University in Egypt.

He was a Law student at the San Beda College when news on the Jabidah Massacre in March 1968 broke out and triggered protest actions.

Like many Moro youth of that period, their intended career paths were sacrificed for the Bangsamoro struggle to assert their right to self-determination. Alonto did not become a lawyer. Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, now interim Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, did not become an engineer.

Following the Jabidah Massacre, Alonto organized the LAM ALIF, Group whose members became the core leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

He was vice chair to Nur Misuari in the then undivided MNLF.

“He is my first cousin but we’re more of brothers,” Robert “Bob” Marohombsar Alonto told MindaNews. “We fought together in the Battle of Sacol in 1974 when we were still MNLF. He was then MNLF Vice Chairman.”

After the guerrilla training abroad of what is now referred to as the MNLF’s “Top 90,’ which included Misuari, Alonto ranf or Marawi City vice mayor and won.

“He was then the MNLF Central Committee Vice Chair with Misuari as chair,” Bob said.

“During the false flag operation (Marawi uprising in October 1972) staged by the Marcos dictatorship to smoke out the MNLF leaders in Lanao, he was arrested and was detained for more than a year,” Bob recalled.

In 1973, Alonto was released on probation but after some time, went underground.

“In 1974, we formed the MNLF Northern Mindanao Regional Revolutionary Committee with him as chair. He came out of the jungle when the Tripoli Agreement was signed in 1976,” Bob said.

He noted that in 1980, his cousin “decided to come out openly and use parliamentary means to pressure the Marocs regime to implement the Tripoli Agreement. But eventually, Marcos betrayed the MNLF.”

Appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016, Alonto was the first Muslim to chair MinDA, after Jesus Dureza and Luwalhati Antonino.

Alonto was the second Moro leader who passed away this week. Last Monday, Prof. Octavio Dinampo of the Mindanao State University in Sulu succumbed to cardiac arrest.

A peace advocate and civil society leader, Dinampo was abducted by the Abu Sayyaf along with three journalists he guided in 2008. They were released nine days later. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)