GMA News Online
News
»
Regions

Maranaos mourn as Mahid Mutilan is buried

December 7, 2007 8:59am
Sun.Star: ILIGAN CITY -- Maranaos mourned the death Thursday of former Lanao del Sur governor Dr. Mahid Mutilan, a respected Muslim religious leader and an acknowledged titan of peace advocacy and inter-religious dialogue in Mindanao.

Mutilan died in a car accident in Gitagum, Misamis Oriental around 5 a.m. Thursday while rushing from Marawi to Cagayan de Oro City to catch the first plane flight to Manila.

His driver, Hasan Miraato, reportedly lost control of the vehicle. Both of them were rushed to a hospital in Cagayan de Oro.

Mutilan died along the way while Miraato is still in critical condition.

By mid-day, as Mutilan's remains were brought back to Marawi, leaders of Maranao society flocked into the family home to pay their last respects to a man they looked up to for religious guidance and political leadership.

"Mutilan is one of our best leaders and can even be counted as among Mindanao's, too," said Hadji Abdullah Dalidig, chair of the non-government Islamic Movement for Electoral Reform and Good Governance (IMERGG).

"He cares for his people," Dalidig said of how Mutilan regards the Maranao folk.

Peace deal

A native of Marawi, Mutilan holds the Maranao title of "Guro sa Marawi," meaning a learned leader.

An Islamic scholar who holds a doctorate in theology, Mutilan was president of the Ulama League of the Philippines, which grouped Muslim religious leaders in the country.

With Roman Catholic Bishop Fernando Capalla and Bishop Hilario Gomez of the Protestant National Council of Churches of the Philippines, Mutilan co-founded the Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC) in 1996 and has since been a co-convener of the regular Bishops-Ulama Forum (BUF).

The BUF seeks to promote Muslim-Christian dialogue by holding meetings among its religious leaders on a regular basis and at all levels of society.

The BUF meets every three months. Priests, imams, and pastors hold regular forums and plan a variety of Christian-Muslim activities among youth, social workers and other sectors.

This formation has been instrumental in bridging Mindanao's socio-cultural and religious divides for advocating sustained efforts to ending the island's many conflicts especially the Moro rebellion.

During the presidency of Joseph Estrada, Mutilan served as member of the all-Mindanaoan panel of the government negotiating a peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

This historic panel composition also included former Mindanao State University president Dr. Emily Marohombsar, women leader Irene Santiago, and Cotabato City Mayor Muslimen Sema. It was chaired by lawyer Jesus Dureza, now Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

Islamic politics


In the late 1980s, Mutilan founded and led the Marawi-based Ompia Party, a political party that focuses on the central and western Mindanao regions as its constituency.

According to Dalidig, this constituted the beginning of Mutilan's campaign to bring the tenets of Islam into mainstream local politics.

"In Islamic practice, political governance is supposed to be subservient to the sacrosanct teachings of the Holy Book," said Dalidig.

But this was never a reality in Muslim communities because the mainstream system "provides a dividing line between the two," he added.

In 1988, Mutilan went into politics through a candidacy and eventual victory as Marawi city mayor. In 1992, he ran and won as Lanao del Sur governor. He stayed in the gubernatorial post for nine years, completing three straight terms in office.

Mutilan's 1988 candidacy signaled the more aggressive involvement of Muslim religious leaders in political governance.

In 2001, he ran for vice-governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in tandem with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Dr. Parouk Hussin, clinching victory under the auspices of MalacaƱang.

While ARMM vice-governor, Mutilan also served as regional education secretary on a concurrent capacity.

In 2005, Mutilan lost to Zaldy Ampatuan, son of Maguindanao Governor Datu Andal Ampatuan, in the bitterly contested ARMM polls that sparked fears of MalacaƱang meddling.

In a statement from the BUC, Bishop Fernando Capalla said the group "lost a valuable and sturdy pillar" in Mutilan.

Mutilan's burial rites were set just before dusk Thursday in keeping with Islamic tradition. - Sun.Star