Basilan's former hotbed of shabu trafficking is SGLG awardee

GOVERNANCE/POLITICS • Sat Nov 11, 2017 09:44 AM  •  1,039   0
By John Unson
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Officials inspect a port in Maluso town in Basilan the ARMM government has just rehabilitated.
Officials inspect a port in Maluso town in Basilan the ARMM government has just rehabilitated.
COTABATO CITY --- The town touted as “shabu capital” of Basilan, from where now reforming traffickers dispersed shabu throughout the island province, has won the 2017 Seal of Good Local Governance award.

The now booming Maluso, one of 19 towns in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that received the 2017 SGLG award this week, is home to indigenous Tausug, Yakan and Sama communities and non-Muslim Visayan and Chavacano-speaking settlers. 

The neophyte mayor of Maluso, Hanie Bud, elected to office only last year, said on Saturday that his constituents were elated with the feat, something that they never expected to achieve too soon. 

“We have not even completed our housecleaning goals yet we already have this SGLG award. This is a clear recognition of our peace-building efforts and good governance initiatives here,” Bud said. 

Records obtained on Friday from the intelligence division of the Police Regional Office-ARMM indicated that Maluso had the most number of large-scale drug dealers in Basilan before President Rodrigo Duterte was elected in May 2016. 

Senior Superintendent Nickson Muksan of the Basilan provincial police said hundreds of drug dependents and peddlers in Maluso voluntarily surrendered last year through the intercession of elected officials and barangay leaders. 

Muksan said local officials in Maluso and their constituent-barangay leaders are supportive of the effort of the provincial police in maintaining law and order in the municipality. 

“It is but fitting for the municipality to be awarded an SGLG prize,” Muksan said. 

Basilan is a component province of ARMM, which also covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, both in mainland Mindanao, and the islands of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. 

Besides Maluso, the largest town in Basilan, Sumisip, the hometown of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, and the capital of the province, Lamitan City, also both bagged this year’s SGLG citation. 

Officials of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said on Saturday that seven of the 20 barangays in Maluso had been declared absolutely “drug-free,” based on surveys initiated with the help of community elders and local Muslim clerics. 

Bud said he is thankful to the ARMM government for helping him push his peace and socio-economic programs in Maluso forward. 

The office of Hataman has implemented, through the regional public works department and the office of Basilan District Engineer Soler Undug, more than P300 million worth of infrastructure projects in Maluso in the past five years.

Undug said the Hataman administration has earmarked no less than P500 million more for infrastructure projects in Maluso in 2018. 

Undug said they will construct next year a new local government center in Maluso and expand its municipal seaport to boost the local economy. 

Among ARMM’s high-ticket projects completed during the incumbency of Bud is a costly water supply facility now benefiting thousands and the rehabilitation of the town’s seaport. 

Maluso is Basilan’s largest producer of dried sea fishes that merchants sell in Zamboanga City and other trading centers in Mindanao. 

Bud said it was for the support to his administration of patriotic leaders in the local religious and business sectors and influential people in the academe that the municipal government had won an SGLG award. 

A foreign-trained Islamic theologian, Aboulkhair Tarason, chairman of the Basilan Ulama Council, said he is supporting Bud’s effort to transform Maluso into a peaceful home for Muslims and non-Muslims. 

“The SGLG award for the LGU of Maluso is a source of inspiration, It has increased our zeal to help the people there rise from poverty and conflicts and criminalities,” said Tarason. 

Tarason is grand mufti (preacher) in ARMM’s Darul Iftah, also known as the region’s House of Opinions, whose members are moderate clerics, some of them graduates of Islamic schools in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Libya who are actively supporting President Rodrigo Duterte’s southern Mindanao peace process. 
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