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'Mobile capitol' rolls anew in Maguindanao.

For the third time since 1986, the 'mobile capitol' is rolling again in Maguindanao province.

This time, under new Gov. Bai Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu, the provincial seat of government is back to Shariff Aguak town after staying in Buluan town for almost a decade.

Mangudadatu, the first elected woman governor who touted herself as the 'Agila ng Maguindanao' (Eagle of Maguindanao), promised to lead the province to new heights in her inaugural address at the provincial gymnasium here.

'We will work to restore Maganoy to its old glory,' she said in Filipino.

Maganoy, the old name of Shariff Aguak, used to be a bustling town in the then undivided Cotabato empire.

During the campaign period, Mangudadatu promised to return the provincial capitol to Shariff Aguak, which, she said, would be the 'rightful' site.

'There is no doubt the law recognizes this town as the provincial capital,' she said.

The late three-term governor, Andal Ampatuan Sr., built the P218-million capitol in Shariff Aguak, the only one in the country with a Jacuzzi whirlpool bath at the governor's wing.

The capitol is a few hundred meters from what used to be Ampatuan's palatial house.

Ampatuan, the suspected mastermind of the Ampatuan massacre that killed 58 people, including media workers, on Nov. 23, 2009, died while in detention in 2015 due to a lingering illness.


He abandoned the old provincial capitol in Nuling town, Sultan Kudarat, months after he became the governor in 2001 following an alleged ambush of his convoy.

His immediate predecessors-Zacaria Candao (1986-1992; 1995-2001) and Norodin Matalam (1992-1995)-held office at the provincial capitol in Nuling.

Ampatuan's successor, outgoing three-term Gov. Esmael 'Toto' Mangudadatu, ruled the province at a 'satellite office' in his hometown, Buluan, after assuming power in 2010.

He did not hold office in Shariff Aguak due to security concerns.

Esmael's wife and several family members, who filed his certificate of candidacy for governor, were among the victims of the massacre, which happened in Ampatuan town.

In 2016, Esmael started building on a 12-hectare land in Buluan a P500-million capitol that President Duterte unveiled in February this year.

US Capitol

Mangudadatu, whose husband Suharto Mangudadatu is the come-backing governor of the neighboring province of Sultan Kudarat, said the capitol in Buluan, which was patterned after the US Capitol in Washington, would be transformed into a hospital.

Suharto, who previously served as governor and congressional representative of Sultan Kudarat, and Esmael are cousins.

Mangudadatu, formerly the mayor of Datu Abdullah Sangki town, defeated Freddie Mangudadatu, younger brother of Esmael, who won as representative of the province's second congressional district.

A part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Maguindanao, which is composed of 36 towns, is a known bailiwick of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and one of the country's poorest provinces due to the decadeslong Moro rebellion.

The capitol building in Shariff Aguak has yet to be rehabilitated. Its compound now serves as the headquarters of the 601st Infantry Brigade.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Jul 3, 2019
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