Reminiscence of crusading son-in-law

Punchline

By ALI G. MACABALANG

(NOTE: I opted to republish this article posted two days ago in my Facebook page, where it drew several reactions, mostly if not all expressing sympathy. The same is coupled with a photo of my son-in-law and me taken a few days before he met a fatal road mishap on Oct. 8, 2018, which I repost herein as well. I hope this piece will open politicos’ eyes on the need for honoring covenants.)

Exactly two years ago today (Oct. 8), the political clans of then Maguindanao Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, Vice Governor Lester Sinsuat and former Sultan Kudarat Mayor Tocao Mastura formalized their pre-2019 elections political alliance in a grand kanduli gathering at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Center in Cotabato City.

Because of the significance of the event in the history of Maguindanao where bloody electoral contests once peaked in the infamous Nov. 23, 2009 massacre of 58 people, 32 of them media workers, my beloved son-in-law Mohammad “Moh” Saaduddin of the Manila Times obliged himself to cover the event.

I went ahead to Cotabato City aboard my Revo car and advised him by phone to stay behind and take care of his family because I would do the coverage of the event. But Moh insisted he would follow us in Cotabato City using his high-speed motorcycle, arguing that the significant event was worth his presence to cover and write about.

While at the event venue, Moh enthusiastically took photos and recorded the proceedings.

“Mahalaga ang okasyong ito, Pang, dahil ang kahulugan ay magiging mapayapa ang darating na 2019 eleksyon sa Maguindanao,” Moh told me in one of the intervals of his photo-taking.

After the event, I asked Moh to join me in our Revo car in our return back to Kidapawan City as one of my buddies offered to drive his motorbike back home. He refused the offer, and said he would stay behind in Cotabato City for a couple of hours to transact business at the Regional LTO office.

Around 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 8, 2018, while my buddies and I were inside a videoke pub in our village in Amas, Kidapawan City for refreshment from a day-long and stressful coverage, my daughter called me up and said the Matalam, North Cotabato police station notified her about Moh meeting an accident.

We rushed to Matalam and some resident told us the motorbike rider died on the spot when his bike rammed a cargo truck behind. They said the cadaver was brought to a funeral parlor in the town.

I sobbed profusely and felt like my heart was exploding when I saw Moh’s body lying lifeless.

In my huddles with my family members and with Moh’s parents via long-distance call, we all settled down to our belief that the tragic accident was qadrullah (willed by God).

While reeling off from grief, I learned later that two of the three allied political clans defied the covenant and threw support to someone else in the gubernatorial race.

I realized then that indeed in politics, nothing is permanent in a situation where glitters of money are valued more than honor.

May Allah endow His mercy on my son-in-law, whose desire for better political exercises among our Muslim politicians did not gain fulfillment. Subhanallah.

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