Tuesday, May 4

The Lady from Sulu

Last January 2009, three members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). They were Swiss national Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba.

After 77 days in captivity, Lacaba was released by the ASG to the honorable Vice Governor Nur-Ana “Lady Ann” Sahidulla; followed by Notter nearly two weeks later. The last to walk to freedom was Vagni who was turned over also to Vice Governor Sahidulla on July 12.

The Sulu Vice Governor‘s role in securing the safe release of the three ICRC workers was commended by Philippine National Red Cross chair Richard Gordon.

According to Gordon, “As the Vice Governor of Sulu and the Chair of the PNRC Chapter in her province, the responsibility of finding a peaceful, effective and humanitarian solution to the hostage crisis rested on her shoulders.”

Gordon said that the vice governor’s intimate and unique knowledge as well as the trust and respect of the people of Sulu made it possible to communicate effectively with the Abu Sayyaf and ensure the safety of the hostages, bring them food and medicines, and eventually secure their safe release from their abductors.

Sahidulla’s use of peaceful means to address the hostage crisis saved, not only the lives of the hostages but also of soldiers, the Abu Sayyaf and other people who might have been hurt if an all-out conflict was pursued, Gordon said as he defended the lady vice governor from critics and doubting Thomases.

She was also part of the team that negotiated for the release of broadcast journalist Ces OreƱa Drilon and two other ABS-CBN employees who were kidnapped by the ASG in 2008.

Vice Governor Sahidulla, also known as “Lady Ann” enjoys the distinction of being the first Woman Vice Governor in the province of Sulu. She is running for the 2nd district congressional seat in Sulu and most of the Sulu town mayors are reportedly supporting her candidacy, affirming Sahidulla’s independence and firm decisions on any issue and her knowledge in the art of negotiation during conflicts.

Sahidulla is also known for her peace advocacy, saying that peace is an essential ingredient for sustainable development. “Mindful peace is uplifted if there’s harmony in each others heart. True and clear heart can overcome the rouse of evil in one’s mind,” she said. The lady vice governor also believes that the root cause of armed conflict in Mindanao is poverty. “Kung walang gutom, walang aakyat sa bundok at hahawak ng baril,” she stressed. Meanwhile, she’s helping her constituents thru her livelihood programs like soy sauce making, aquaculture, livestock raising and lately, coffee farming.

Sahidulla founded the Anak Ilo Foundation Incorporated in 1995. Anak Ilo is a foundation designed to help the orphans in attaining their dreams through scholarship grants.

She is also actively involved in livelihood projects, literacy programs and activities which support and promote the good image of Sulu, as well as in medical missions and relief operations benefiting families in Sulu who are affected by unending conflict and bloody encounters in her province. Through her, the building of the BLOOD BANK of the Philippine National Red Cross was made possible and raised for the benefits of the Suluanos.

Sahidulla said, “I will continue to provide assistance to our people and most especially the victims of war in Sulu even if armed conflicts in this province have waned down. As a vanguard for people’s right, we must guarantee support to children and refuge their rights”.

If elected, Sahidulla will replace 2nd district Rep. Munir Arbison who is on his third and last term as congressman of the district.

Give the Lady a seat in the House.