By Ali G. Macabalang
Maguindanao is now officially divided into two provinces, with President Duterte signing into law the enabling bill on Thursday, proponent lawmakers announced on the same day.
The new law, docketed as R. A. 11550, divides the 36-town province into Maguindanao del Norte and Maguindanao del Sur in what initiating officials envisioned as a vital step to expedite growth and foster peace in the so-called “land of the flooded plain.”
Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, a principal proponent, echoed Thursday afternoon via social media the confirmation from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea about the enactment of the law.
The post was coupled with an image of the transmittal letter of Sec. Medialdea to Senate President Tito Sotto and the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office for the official dissemination of related information.
Rep. Mangudadatu expressed gratitude to the President and to the Senate, particularly Senators Francis Tolentino, Bong Go and Migz Zubiri who he described as key players in the immediate adoption in the upper Chamber of the House Bill No. 6314.
“Maraming salamat po sa inyong pakikinig at pagpanig sa boses ng nakakarami sa amin sa Maguindanao,” said Rep. Mangudadatu, who had earlier revealed a powerful political clique allegedly opposed to the provincial split.
Of the existing 36 constituent towns in the mother province, Maguindanao del Norte shall comprise 12, namely: Datu Blah Sinsuat, Barira, Buldon, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Kabuntalan, Matanog, North Upi, Parang, Northern Kabuntalan, Sultan Kudarat, Sultan Mastura, and Talitay. Datu Odin Sinsuat will serve as the northern capital town.
Maguindanao del Sur will comprise Ampatuan, Buluan, Datu Abdulla Sangki, Datu Anggal, Datu Hofer Ampatuan, Midtimbang, Datu Montawal, Datu Paglas, Datu Piang, Datu Salibo, Satu Saudi Ampatuan, Datu Unsay, Gen. Salipada K. Pendatun, Guindulungan, Mamasapano, Mangudadatu, Pagalungan, Paglat, Pandag, Rajah Buayan, Shariff Aguak, Shariff Saydona Mustafa, Sultan sa Barongis, Talayan, and South Upi.
The current provincial Buluan capital is retained as seat of Maguindanao del Sur, the signed law showed.
R.A. 11550 will be officially effective upon publication in the Official gazette, after which the Commission on Elections shall be announcing the conduct of a referendum in the two new provinces for its ratification by the electorate.
Earlier, Rep. Mangudadatu and First District Rep. Ronnie Sinsuat, also a bill proponent, told the Philippine Muslim Today news about their optimism for ratification of the law before October this year, during which the Comelec will start receiving certificates of candidacies for national and local positions in the May 2022 polls. (AGM)