By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – President Rodrigo Duterte has named a lawyer-academician as new president of the Mindanao State University (MSU) System, a premier government academic institution in Southern Philippines many concerned people including alumni want to be rid of non-academic ills.
Lawyer Basari Dimakuta Mapupuno was sworn to office on March 9 before Executive Secretary Salvador Midealdea reportedly a day after the Chief Executive signed his appointment papers.
His appointment covers a six-year term, a standard length of office tenure for heads of state universities and colleges in the country.
Succeeding Dr. Habib Macaayong, a fellow MSU alumnus whose university presidential office term ends this month, Mapupuno obtained his Law degree from the school’s main campus in Marawi City in April 1992.
Before becoming the 8th regular university president, he was the provincial prosecutor of Lanao del Sur and was also the longest serving dean of the MSU main campus’ College of Law.
Mapupuno had served as president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Marawi chapter from 2011 to 2013, and is holding the prestige of being the first student member of the MSU Board of Regents representing the student sector.
He is also peculiar among the eight appointed full-fledged MSU presidents, being the only lawyer without a doctorate degree.
The first seven full-fledged MSU presidents were Ph.D. holders Antonio Isidro (1961-67), Mauyag Tamano (1967-74), Domocao Alonto Jr. (1986-92), Emily Marohombsar 1992-98, Camar Umpa (1998-2004), Macapado Muslim (2010-16), and Macaayong (2016-2022).
Retired Police General Ricardo de Leon, though holding a doctorate degree on police administration, was appointed as Acting president with a six-year term (2004-2010) by then President GMA to fix problems on land squatting and other malpractices in the campus (as conveyed to me by one of his backers – then Sec. Roberto Gonzales).
The Sultan Ali Dimaporo, while serving as governor of Lanao del Sur, was appointed by then President Marcos as Acting MSU president for the longest stint in the campus spanning from 1974 to 1996.
Mangigin “Mike” Magumnang, a retired police general and MSU alumnus holding a public administration doctorate, and lawyer Tocod Macaraya Sr. had served as officers in Charge in the university system for some months.
The MSU system was founded on Sept. 1, 1961 under R.A. 1387 and RA 1983 authored by late Senator Domocao Alonto Sr. as a premiere university in Mindanao to provide quality education to constituents (notably the then lowly lettered Moro people), and integrate them into the national mainstream.
Hundreds of people including stakeholders and professionals based in the country and abroad posted messages of congratulations to lawyer Mapupuno, according to published reports.
Dr. J. Prospero de Vera III, chairman of the Commission on Higher Education and also chairman of the MSU System Board of Regents, were among those who have conveyed welcome messages, reports said.
A lady Facebook user described and saluted the new university president in a post: “Everyone walks in awe of you. A perfectionist indeed, but you have always been fair and too kind a lot of times.”
The Philippine Muslim Today news tried but failed to interview Mapupuno. His mobile phone kept ringing sans answer. The PMT also sent SMS and Messenger messages to him, but all were unanswered.
In his Facebook account under the name of Hassanal Basari Mapupuno, some video clips were posted, showing him swarmed by crowds escorting him alongside policemen on his way to the university president’s office for a turnover ceremony with predecessor Dr. Macaayong.
Online photos and video clips showed Mapupuno presiding a meeting with supporters in the presence of the outgoing predecessor, him and Macaayong embracing each other, and an image showing him posing with his children months ago.
The new MSU president, said to be 57 years old, is the son of the late lawyer Oga Mapupuno, who had served the university as vice president for administration during the reign of Acting President Dimaporo.
He is also the nephew-in-law of the late Dimaporo. The latter’s wife and Mapupuno’s mother were siblings. (AGM)