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On November 22, a group of journalists from the Cities of Iligan, Marawi and Oroquietta visited the Philippine Army’s First ‘Tabak’ Division In Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur.

Tony Abejo, publisher of the Malindang Tribune and president of the Manggagawang Media Mindanao (MMM) led those coming from Misamis Occidental.

Frank E. Dosdos, Jr., managing editor of the New Ranao Star, and presiding of the Unified Media in Iligan represented Iligan and Lanao del Norte.

I represented Marawi City and Lanao del Sur.

Not only because it was a Saturday, there was also an important military event in its area of responsibility, we did not meet high ranking officials in the division. But we were happy there was Sgt. Lacbayo who was ready to meet us.

Lacbayo was a good jolly officer

During our conversation, we happened to talk about the late General Daniel Lucero who died in a scuba dive in Zamboanga del Sur in May of last year.

When I mentioned about an article I wrote in a defunct small paper in Marawi City days after Lucero’s death, my colleagues asked me to reprint said article in the New Ranao Star as it is circulating Mindanao-wide, so that people will have chance to read it.

For the sake of my colleagues and in a continuing tribute to the good late general, I am reprinting below the article.

Then Brig. Gen. Daniel Lucero had a remarkable career before he succumbed to a heart attack in a scuba diving in Zamboanga one Sunday afternoon of May 2013.
I have had not the opportunity to meet him personally but once when I visited him at the 103rd Brigade of the Philippine Army in Kampo Ranao. Still a colonel, he was ithe Brigade Commander.
The visit was arranged by his assistant Col. Allan Manabilang, a hometown relative. That was barely a month or two after Lucero assumed the command of the Haribon Brigade in 2011.That was the first and last.
Thenceforth, I have not had any verbal encounter with him except by text messages. He wanted me to visit the camp again but time had not given me the chance to go.
In that meeting, he talked much, among other concerns, of the customs and traditions of the Maranao people as a major factor to consider in maintaining peace and order in Lanao del Sur. Obviously, he meant respect and uphold the cultural beliefs and traditions of the locals especially in settling rido among them.
Rido is the main stumbling block in the aspiration for a lasting peace and sustainable development. Prosperity is only attained if development is sustained  and that is when peace is enjoyed everywhere in the locality.
Rido, or the way how it is handled by the Maranaos, is an enshrined part of the culture and as time tells us, the Philippine government has never effectively addressed this social upheaval.
Is it because the government has been trying to deal it with its common course of action vis dealing with other crimes, if not suppressing a rebellion as the case may be?
The government did not give emphasis to rido as a culture rooted and strongly associated with the Maranao maratabat.
Commonly, the Maranao family has that sense of being untouchable, consciously or not, which is also  why they try to connect and build up strong and influential families. And as a matter of propensity, therefore, many a Maranao family place the law in their hand, especially when in many instances the culprits are not at all apprehended by authorities, even if arrest warrants have been issued— a reality in a country where justice is always delayed.
Though in democratic societies, it is believed destructive, this culture has entrenched among the Maranaos to rather die than see their family or any member of it mocked, scorned, injured, much more murdered by others.

And if only to uphold that maratabat, the family would sacrifice their everything in unison, and most often place the law in their hand as the culture so dictates e.g. tooth for a tooth, life for a life—if you take life, you must pay it with life.
Resorting to the Ijma and Taritib of the Maranaos is one key  the late general held as an effective measure. This way, Lucero had not only made the locality to have almost a zero crime rate but made himself a darling of the locals. I believe this is also among the best reasons why he immediately rose to the ranks.
Lucero stint in Lanao del Sur as commander of the 103rd Brigade has contributed a lot in the maintaining of peace and order in the locality and the implementation of development programs and projects of both the local and national governments.
He had ably helped concerned government authorities in the campaign against illegal drug trafficking and proliferation. He had helped in controlling , carnappings, kidnapping and other menaces of the society. His approach to rido solving was certainly appreciated.
Lucero’s skill as an effective peacekeeper and a leader was more demonstrated when he was able to bring all opposing political leaders and clans to sit down and agreed on a covenant to abide by the law in the forthcoming elections.
He was able to let them commit that they would uphold and support a clean and peaceful election and not in anyway resort to cheating, harassment, or election frauds.
The May 13, 2013 elections came to pass and for the first time in many years in the political history of Lanao del Sur that there had been no failure of elections, and there was no reported death toll incidents.
There were of course reported incidents but were no more than isolated ones as compared to the previous elections.
Indeed, Lucero had made his career remarkable and shining during his stint as commander of the 103rd Haribon Brigade. And we believe it is because he gained the heart of the Maranaos.
And his untimely death is a loss to the Maranaos, as it is a loss of course to the Filipino People.
General Lucero rest in peace.”

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