Basilan's warring families reconcile

BASILAN, Philippines - Two families locked in a violent dispute signed a peace covenant here on Tuesday, June 5, ending nearly a decade of political rivalry.

Jum Akbar, Basilan governor, and Mujiv Hataman, acting regional governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), led Basileños in the signing of “A Covenant of Solidarity for Peace and Development in Basilan” at the Basilan State College in the capital city of Isabela.

Interior and Local Government Secretary witnessed the signing and hailed it as a first step which should be followed by other warring families in the country.

The Akbars have accused the Hatamans -- Mujiv and his brother Jim, a congressman of the province -- of plotting the 2007 murder of then Basilan Rep Wahab Akbar, husband of the incumbent governor.

But as a result of the reconciliation, the Akbars dropped the murder charges filed against the Hatamans in court.

Tuesday's reconciliation also paves the way for a political realignment in Basilan. It is likely that Gov. Akbar will be joining the ruling Liberal Party for the 2013 elections under a common ticket supported by both families.

In a speech, the Akbar matriarch, Gov Jum Akbar, said: “Ginusto po namin ang reconciliation na ito, unang-una, bilang pagsunod sa utos ng ating mahal na panginoong Allah. Pangalawa po ay para maisakatuparan na ang matagal nang pangarap ng ating mga kapwa Basileño na magkasundo na ang dalawang pamilyang ito.” (We wanted this reconciliation to happen because this is Allah's wish. Our fellow Basileños have also been wishing for the two families to reconcile.)

Initial talks between the two families began almost 6 months ago, with Mujiv Hataman sending emmisaries from the Basilan Ulama Supreme Council to Gov. Akbar. 

PNoy as witness

No less than President Benigno Aquino III presided over a meeting between the two families in Malacañang.

“We are definitely looking forward to this new chapter in the lives of Basileños everywhere,” said Basilan Ulama Secretary General and Provincial Board Member Yusop Alano. “We should all welcome this new alignment, as this will surely bring peace and development to Basilan.”

The Akbar and Hataman families used to be political allies until the 2004 elections, when both families parted ways and competed against each other for local positions.

The rivalry came to a head on Nov 13, 2007, when Rep. Wahab Akbar was killed in an explosion at the Batasang Pambansa compound in Quezon City.

The Akbar family subsequently filed murder charges against the Hataman brothers, and former Deputy Speaker Gerry Salapuddin. - Rappler.com