By MARK NAVALES
CAMP FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig City: The Philippine Army (PA) Headquarters welcomes an undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA) who is at the same time a Muslim peace advocate as new member of the Multi-Sector Advisory Board (MSAB) here recently.
Engr. Zamzamin Ampatuan, DA Undersecretary for Regulations and Build Build Build Agriculture, took his oath as MSAB member before Lt. Gen. Cirilito E. Sobejana, commanding general of the Philippine Army.
Ampatuan said he intends to serve in PA MSAB’s Research and Education Committee. He hopes that his experiences as a follower of Islam will contribute to the endeavors of the board’s support towards the Army’s mission especially in advocating peace.
“The Philippine Army’s transformation is a bid shared with governance and policy experts, the people we need in attaining our breakthrough goals. They are the people we rely on for criticisms and opinions in wide-ranging matters affecting the Army,” said Sobejana.
Ampatuan who is widely known as a peace advocate is also technologically equipped as a development worker in Mindanao, especially in the Bangsamoro region.
His advocacy ranges from being vocal against violent extremism since his youth, to community-based development work. He has been into various engagement both local, national and international propagating peaceful approaches in the resolution of social ills and political discontent.
USec Ampatuan was born on 14 March 1963 at Zapakan, Radjah Buayan, Maguindanao. He is married to Bai Farida Sinsuat Lidasan with whom he has one daughter and four sons.
In like manner prior to joining the DA as undersecretary to Secretary William Dar, he was the incumbent mayor of the Municipality of Radjah Buayan but has to give up the mayoralty post in favor of the big calling as a public servant serving the entire nation.
It can be recalled in 1990s, he became a vocal critic of Violent Extremism. He ran a radio broadcast program which became his platform on preventing and countering the spread of radical Islamist ideology propagation and its promotion of culture of violence.
He dismissed the extremists as veering away from true teachings of Islam and leading more into a corrupt and wayward Jihad.
Engr. Ampatuan believes in the principles of democracy which allow spiritual, moral and ethical values to flourish under state-guaranteed freedom, and without the use of force.
Hence, Ampatuan has been well recognized for his views against Violent Extremism that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) during the time of Gen. Angelo Reyes as AFP Chief of Staff, requested him as an adviser of the military on how to deal with concerns within the Muslim Mindanao region. The recognition he has garnered led him to speak at the Center for Excellence in National Security (CENS) in Singapore and the US Military Academy at West Point.
Engr. Ampatuan is a dedicated development worker. This was concretely manifested when he became one of the leading implementers of the United Nations Development Program-lead UN Programmed to assist the implementation of the 1996 GPH-MNLF Final Peace Agreement. The Program covered a wide array of developmental interventions to rehabilitate the conflict affected communities in the areas then declared as the Special Zone of Peace and Development (SZOPAD).
Even as he is committed to the campaign against Violent Extremism, Engr. Ampatuan was able to carry on his work as public servant, and he ascended in the career executive hierarchy eventually attaining the highest rank as CESO I (Career Executive Service Officer I), thus he has been in various executive posts in the national government.
Aside from serving as a career bureaucrat, he also has experience as a local government executive as mentioned earlier he became Mayor of Radjah Buayan, his birthplace and hometown.
As Mayor, he was one of the recipients of the 2014 AFP Bayanihan Award for having successfully defended his town, organizing both the local AFP Unit, the MILF, and civilian volunteers against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF).
USec Ampatuan is currently a member of 6ID Multi-Sectoral Advisory Board.
“My membership in the Philippine Army MSAB will bring into this forum my in depth knowledge of Islamist Extremism which inspires terrorism worldwide thus provide the Army the needed insight in keeping its role in protecting the land,” Ampatuan further said. (Mark Navales)