COTABATO CITY-- Officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and in Maguindanao on Wednesday grieved the demise of Representative Simeon Ampatuan Datumanong, who is considered a great Muslim leader. He was 81 years old.
Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman said the entire ARMM leadership grieved with the family of Datumanong, who he described as "an honest politician, great statesman, public servant and lawmaker."
"The whole Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has lost a great leader. Hon. Simeon Datumanong embodied the high ideals of an honest politician, a patriot who believed in the Bangsamoro cause to which he devoted his life," Hataman said in a statement.
"He will forever stay in the hearts of the people of the ARMM in general and Maguindanao in particular as a deeply respected and loved leader. He will be missed not only by his constituents but also by the august halls of Congress, and the various offices he served with distinction and respect," Hataman added.
The regional governor said, "On a personal note, being part of the family, I extend my deepest sympathy and utmost support to all members of the clan in this mournful hour, as I wish them strength and courage on the loss of a revered patriarch," Hataman said.
Mayor Zamsamin Ampatuan of Rajah Buayan, Maguindanao first broke the news of Datumanong's death at about 9:45 Tuesday. Ampatuan is one of Datumanong's relatives in government service.
Ampatuan said the Muslim leader was confined in the Philippine Heart Center for about two weeks before he passed away due to cardiac arrest at 9:25 p.m.
"He (Rep. Datumanong) will be laid to his final resting place at Maganoy (Poblacion Sharif Aguak, Maguindanao), at about 2 p.m. today," Mayor Ampatuan said on his FB page.
"We will miss him so much as an epitome of good leadership, calm, simple and effective. For me, he is an elder who is my idol. Kaka Sim, May Allah bless your soul," the mayor of Raja Buayan said.
Rep. Bai Sandra Sema of Maguindanao's first congressional district and Datumanong's relative, was also saddened by his demise.
"Tonight, we've lost a great leader. One who has served well his people. Who has inspired many to strive for their dreams and succeed. His track record is very hard to duplicate," Rep. Sema said late Tuesday.
"Thank you for inspiring me to reach my dream of becoming a congresswoman. Thank you for mentoring me when I was a neophyte legislator. Thank you for the example of being humble, patient and competent public servant," she added.
Datumanong was born on June 17, 1935 in Shariff Aguak (formerly Maganoy) in Maguindanao. He is Moro politician and one of the recipients in 1974 TOYM Awardees for Public Administration.
Known among Moro people as "Bapa Sim," he was married to Sigrid de Guzman with whom he had four children named Borgiva Tasmi, Merinisa Anisalam, Soraya Julie, and Rahma Anna Liza. He has 13 grandchildren.
He finished his elementary education at the Cotabato Elementary School (1951) and secondary education at the Cotabato High School (1955). He obtained his Bachelor of Laws at the University of the Philippines (1959).
He was a representative of the 2nd District of Maguindanao from 1992 to 2001. In 2001, he was appointed by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as the Secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
In 2003, he served as Secretary of Justice until he resigned in the same year. He was re-elected to the House of Representatives in 2007.
The late Datumanong also served as: Member, Board United Coconut Planters Bank (1986-1992); Member, Board Philippine Amanah Bank (1985-1986, Representative Batasang Pambansa (1984-1986); Minister of Muslim Affairs and Cultural Committees (1984-1986); Chairperson Executive Council of Autonomous Region XII (1980-1984).
He was also served as member of the Board of Regents Mindanao State University; University of Southern Mindanao (1980-1984); Regional assemblyman, Autonomous Regional Government of Western Mindanao (1979-1984); Regional commissioner, Region XII (1975-1979); Provincial governor, Maguindanao (1973-1975); Provincial governor, Cotabato (1968-1971); Provincial board member Cotabato (1963-1967);Co-chairperson Provisional government in Southern Philippines, 1977; Member, Philippine negotiation panel for the Tripoli Agreement 1976; Provincial vice governor, Cotabato 1967.
His awards and recognition include TOYM awardee recipient, Community Service Award from the University of the Philippines Alumni Association (UPAA); Three-time citation, Kagitingan Award by the Philippine Constabulary, Philippine Army, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency