Lanao del Sur Vice Governor Mohammad Khalid “Mujam” Raki-in Adiong is slated to receive a major award at the 4th Asia Pacific Luminare Awards.
To be held at the Grand Ballroom of Okada Manila in Paranaque City on March 31, the vice governor will be given an award dubbed as “Man of Influence: Most Inspiring and Empowered Young Vice Governor of the Year.”
The Luminare Awards give recognition to public officials and private individuals who have excelled in their work. Nominees are chosen by those who work in the same field.
For Mujam Adiong, the award is a wonderful birthday gift. He is turning 27 on March 22 -- not old enough to remember when certain historical events had a profound effect on the country, such as the People Power Revolution or the Mt. Pinatubo eruption.
Indeed, anyone his age would consider those events as ancient history. But most people who are his age do not get elected vice governor of a province. At present, he is the youngest vice governor in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Perhaps because of his youth, he has accomplished much and has won the admiration of his colleagues and constituents. He was even elected vice chairman of the Mindanao League of Vice Governors.
Mujam was barely a teenager when he decided that he wanted to be a public servant, as his parents were and still are. His father Mamintal Adiong Jr. is presently the governor of Lanao del Sur, and as a child, Mujam had much exposure to the work his father was doing.
“I often accompanied my parents to work when there was no school. And that’s when I witnessed their compassion for the people of Lanao del Sur,” he said.
“That’s why my childhood may have been different from other people my age, being raised here in Lanao del Sur in a political family. We have the means, but as I grew up, I learned more about my province and the situation of the people. I realized that challenges evolve through the years. New approaches are needed to resolve a situation. This inspired me to join the political realm for I believe that I can do many things to achieve our ultimate dream of a Lanao del Sur that is peaceful and developed, and to continue the legacy of our family,” he said.
He followed in his parents’ footsteps at the age of 16 when he was elected president of the Sangguniang Kabataan. During his term, he worked to empower the youth of his province and identify their role in the community. He finished his term in 2013. And then a mere six years after, he was elected vice governor. He was 25.
Of course, being a vice governor at such a young age seemed like a daunting task, but he was eager to get to work. Expectations were high, he recalled.
“But a young politician can offer new ideas that can benefit the people,” he pointed out.
“Traditional politics is slowly being shifted towards a more democratic and inclusive brand of governance. Young politicians are also equipped with the needed knowledge to understand the technological advances of society as they grow up with computers and the internet.”
Aside from working to establish peace in the province, Mujam wants to uplift the lives of his constituents. He also wants to raise the status of Lanao del Sur. He hopes to achieve this through legislation.
“I believe we can achieve this by working with the people and for the people,” he explained.
“For in unity there is power. As a young leader of the province, I give importance to reaching out to our citizens. I consult with them and get their opinion and thoughts on our legislation. We must always listen to the people and find out what their needs are. And we must address them effectively. It is also important to work closely with our partners for development from the international and local NGOs, line agencies and other organizations willing to help and work with us in achieving our objectives.”
Mujam has also been keeping himself busy with several programs, especially the Angat ang Hanapbuhay sa Lanao del Sur. This has eight clustered programs such as environment, agriculture, culture, civic engagement, economic development, peace building and education, health care services and community resilience.
With the current pandemic, the people of Lanao del Sur were compelled to adapt to the new normal. But Mujam said that while the local government has provided enough relief to its constituents during the lockdowns, it has been somewhat difficult to adapt to the new way of living.
“Most of the transactions and other work now require online interaction,” he said.
“And given our poor signal here in the province we still try our best to adapt. Amongst the interventions that we are thankful for is the ‘WiFi for All’ project of the DICT and UNDP. At least many LGUs here now have internet access. But we do still call for assistance from our telecommunications companies to help us improve our cellular and data signal here as there are many municipalities that don’t have signals at all.”
As the award he will be receiving is bound to generate even more positive buzz for Mujad, getting reelected next year should be a cinch. Or is he now aiming for an even higher office?
He replied: “I would still need to focus on my current duties and responsibilities as Vice Governor of Lanao del Sur before aiming for a higher position. Once I have executed all my agendas and plans for the province, it is up for the people to decide whether I am fit for a bigger political position.”
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