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MOPPIYON KAHI DIID PATOY: Those Who Do not Remember the Past are Condemned to Repeat it

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KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 6 December)—As the people of Kidapawan watch in horror at news of the bombing in MSU Marawi’s Dimaporo gymnasium, the memories of many of them will be led back to the crossing of Datu Ingkal and the National Highway.

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The Crossing of Datu Ingkal Street with the National Highway, where two terror attacks in Kidapawan history took place. Photo by Harold Baylin

Twice, in the span of five years, terror attacks unfolded on this very prominent corner of Kidapawan too.

The first was on 28 January 2003. A bomb expert was trying to detonate a bomb left on the corner when the bomb exploded, hurting him and 13 others (the bomb expert, Herminio Belasa, lost his right arm). This was just three months after an explosion in the city bus station killed eight people.

Datu Musin Mamintal, a politician from Pikit who once ran as mayor of that town, later surrendered as mastermind, and he was presented before the public by no less than the then president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The second explosion happened on the same spot on 5 October 2007, yet again in the wake of a series of explosions (it would be followed by another in November that year at KMCC, killing one person). A child was killed on this particular bombing, and 25 others were injured.

As a Mindanawon city, Kidapawan is no stranger to terror attacks. Its own history with incidents of violence inflicted on the public go all the way back to the troubles of the 1970s, when the violence of the Moro armed struggle and the Communist insurgency (and the equally violent militia-dominated government response against it) spilled into the town.

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The Kidapawan Municipal Council resolutions expressing condolences to Dominador Apostol and Mariano Palmones. Two more were filed for the two patrolmen, Honteveros Embac and Vivencio Pillo, who died during the ambush,.

I would identify the earliest recorded major terror attack in Kidapawan as the ambush at Barangay Mateo of 2 May 1974. The ambush saw Magpet Mayor Dominador Apostol and Kidapawan’s Chief of Police Mariano Palmones killed (along with two patrolmen) as they were en route to Kidapawan. Records do not mention who was behind it, but informants indicate it may have been the first known NPA attack in Kidapawan.

This was followed by a long series of bombings, landmine attacks, and sieges over the decades attributed both to the Communist terrorists and to some of the many shades of violent radicalism that mutated from the Moro armed struggle.

Most recent was the 2017 jail siege, which saw a hundred unidentified armed men besiege the provincial jail in Amas. Five of the inmates and a prison guard died with many injured, but the siege resulted in the escape of over a hundred inmates (including the alleged mastermind and intended escapee of the siege, convicted drug lord Melvin Casangyao).

The most prominent casualty of this siege was the first kagawad of adjacent Barangay Patadon, Abdulsattar Manalundong. Kagawad Sattar was killed when the pursuit of the fugitives reached Patadon. Because Kagawad Satar was an MILF field commander, he was initially blamed as mastermind of the incident. But I have had the opportunity to work with her widow, former Kagawad Haydeelyn (who has had to raise their five children alone after his death) and saw that these accusations were not only unfounded, they ignored the fact that it was Kagawad Sattar who first tipped the local government off of a possible siege.

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With members of the Kidapawan City History and Heritage Research Team and the Youth Society on Kidapawan Heritage before the grave of Kagawad Abdulsattar Manalundong. Beside author (wearing blue polo) is Kagawad Sattar’s widow, team member Haydeelyn Manalundong.

I put on record here my view that Kagawad Sattar was innocent, and that he should be remembered as the very constructive community leader he was before his untimely death.

In the near deranged obsession to project a “peaceful” past, towns like Kidapawan have a tendency to whitewash, and in the process they not only forget the lessons that come with terrible tragedies like terror attacks, they even end up forgetting the human lives that are reduced to statistics because they are not remembered. I am sometimes asked if such deaths—those brought about by acts of public violence—are “senseless deaths.” And I would say that yes, but not because of the killings per se. We render the lives of the dead meaningless if we fail to remember them and learn from their deaths.

Why did they have to die? What led the people who did these to do something so heinous? How can these be prevented so they never happen again?

As that oft-quoted George Santayana aphorism goes, those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

And are we, in our failure to remember, ultimately condemned to see more of these terror attacks?

When will we let this nightmare end?

[MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Karlo Antonio G. David has been writing the history of Kidapawan City for the past thirteen years. He has documented seven previously unrecorded civilian massacres, the lives of many local historical figures, and the details of dozens of forgotten historical incidents in Kidapawan. He was invested by the Obo Monuvu of Kidapawan as “Datu Pontivug,” with the Gaa (traditional epithet) of “Piyak nod Pobpohangon nod Kotuwig don od Ukaa” (Hatchling with a large Cockscomb, Already Gifted at Crowing). The Don Carlos Palanca and Nick Joaquin Literary Awardee has seen print in Mindanao, Cebu, Dumaguete, Manila, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, and Tokyo. His first collection of short stories, “Proclivities: Stories from Kidapawan,” came out in 2022.]

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On this section of Moppiyon Kahi diid Patoy, we remember important dates and incidents that took place in Kidapawan history.

2 December, 1919 – Dr. Emma Bagtas Gadi, Kidapawan’s first and to date only woman mayor, was born in Santa Rosa Laguna
2 December, 1957 – Arturo Amador Sr. is appointed Kidapawan municipal councilor, to take the seat of Dr. Alberto Madriguera (who resigned to take a seat in the Cotabato Provincial Board). Amador would go on to be the first in a political dynasty that spans three generations in Kidapawan history.
4 December, 1954 – Kidapawan Councilor Ireneo Castro resigns to serve as acting mayor of the newly created Municipality of Makilala, which had been created from territory taken from Kidapawan

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