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Clans sign peace pact in Basilan

The Akbar and Hataman clans in Basilan signed a peace agreement last Tuesday (June 5), vowing to exhaust all possible means to promote peace and development in the province.

The clans, which were engaged in more than a decade-old dispute, also promised not to contest each other in the coming May 2013 elections.

Governor Jum Akbar signed on behalf of the Akbar clan and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman signed on his family’s behalf. The accord was brokered by the Muslim-Christian religious leaders, national and local government officials.

The signing was held at the Basilan State College gymnasium and was witnessed by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles.

“I hope this will be the start of a new dawn for the Basileños who wish for peace and development,” Robredo said. “This is a big contribution for long and lasting peace not only here in Basilan but in ARMM as well,” Deles said.

In promising that neither of the family members will contest against the other in the May 2013 elections, no one from the Hataman clan will run for Basilan governor against Akbar and that no one from the Akbar clan will run against Basilan Rep. Hadjiman Hataman-Salliman, the elder brother of the ARMM governor, in next year’s mid-term elections.

“The parties shall not do, cause to be done, or tolerate the doing of any act that will endanger the life, property, and/or security of the other PARTY, his/her relatives, employees, agents, or any person under his/her care, including but not limited to, assassination, destruction of property, harassment, intimidation, and threats,” part of the covenant stated.

Basilan Ulama Supreme Council (BUSC) president Dr. Aboulkair Tarason gives credit to the collaborative effort of the leaders and the cooperation most especially of the local residents in the pursuit of common goals that led to the reconciliation.

“Alhamdullillah, with the grace and mercy of Almighty Allah our dream of attaining peace, unity and reconciliation among our leaders in Basilan has finally come to reality,” Tarason said.

The BUSC had successfully conducted the Islamic counseling to the Akbar and Hataman clans last May 21 wherein Akbar and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Assemblywoman Rajam Akbar met with Hataman and his elder brother Basilan Congressman Jim Hataman-Saliman at the Garden Orchid Hotel in this city.

Tarason described the meeting as very cordial where both families sent clear messages of unity and promotion of smooth relationship among the leaders and the whole constituency of ARMM.

Hataman said the reconciliation with the Akbar family is a very welcome development to him not because he is the ARMM governor but because they are also mandated by law to preserve peace and development in the autonomous region.

“Let’s put legacy to our people in terms peace and unity. Let’s show to other non-ARMM provinces as well as the national leadership that we can settle our own problems without so much burden to other people,” Hataman said.

Akbar revealed she was surprised when the Hataman family, through the facilitation of prominent members of the BUSC, offered to me the possibility of reconciliation between our families.”

“It was not an easy decision for us, especially for me and my children. But it’s worth sacrificing especially if it involves the welfare of our constituents–the Basileños. The pains will fade away as long as it is compensated with smiles from you, my dear people of Basilan,” Akbar said, citing they held a series of consultation meetings concerning the offer of reconciliation.

Akbar also stressed that “what is past is already past and let be judged by Almighty Allah.”

Akbar is the widow of the late Basilan Rep. Wahab Akbar, who was killed in the November 2007 bombing at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City.

The dispute between the Akbar and Hataman clans started over a decade ago when the late congressman Wahab Akbar and ARMM Governor Hataman parted ways due to personal differences.

Hataman was among the accused in the Batasan bombing but was exonerated by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The signing of the peace covenant is viewed as a historic event in Basilan province and themed: “Solidarity Towards Peace and Development of Basilan.”