Ex-Maguindanao congressman Simeon Datumanong dies

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Cotabato City (CNN Philippines) — Former Maguindanao Second District Rep. Simeon Ampatuan Datumanong passed away Tuesday night at the age of 82.

His nephew, former Datu Abdullah Sangki Municipal Councilor Anwar Emblawa, said Datumanong died at the Philippine Heart Center after being confined for a week following a stroke.

Emblawa said Datumanong had been in a coma for a few days and was able to recover before passing away. Emblawa also said Datumanong was suffering from complicated illnesess.

Datumanong's body will be brought to his home town in Shariff Aguak on Wednesday for the burial.

Veteran government official

Datumanong, a University of the Philippines Law graduate, served as the Governor of Maguindanao and the Regional Commissioner of the Office of the Regional Commisioner 12.

He was also the chairman of the Lupong Tagapagpaganap ng Pook (the current Administrative Region of Muslim Mindanao), an Interim Batasang Pambansa assemblyman and concurrent Muslim Affairs Minister during the Marcos regime.

He was then elected Representative of Maguindanao's Second District during the presidencies of Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada.

He was also appointed as the Secretary of the Department of the Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Public Works and Highways during the Arroyo administration.

Datumanong was again elected Representative of Maguidanao's Second District during President Benigno Aquino III's time before retiring from politics at age of 79.

DOJ flies flag half-mast

The DOJ flew its flag at half-mast on Wednesday in honor of Datumanong.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said in a Wednesday statement that the late congressman was "a man of many talents and admirable traits."

"We join the nation in mourning the sudden demise of former Justice Secretary Simeon A. Datumanong last night," Aguirre said. "Secretary Datumanong distinguished himself as a public servant in both the Legislative and the Executive branches of our government, his love for our country and for the Filipino people was very much evident in his thoughts and more so in his actions."

Graft charges

Prior to his death, Datumanong was facing graft charges before the Ombudsman in connection with his alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or "pork barrel."

The Ombudsman found that in May 2012, Datumanong coursed P3.8 million of his PDAF through the Maharlikang Lipi Foundation Inc. (MLFI), a non-government organization that the Commission on Audit discovered had been selected without going through proper bidding.

The money was intended for the National Council of Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) to finance livelihood programs, such as soap making, candle making and meat processing for the towns of Mamasapano, Ampatuan and Datu Abdullah Sanki.

The Office of the Ombudsman told CNN Philippines on Wednesday that although death extinguishes Datumanong's criminal liability, the late congressman's counsel will have to file a motion with the Sandiganbayan to remove his name from the list of respondents.

The agency also said the graft cases filed against Datumanong's co-respondents from the NCMF and the MLPI are pending with the Sandiganbayan.

CNN Philippines Digital Producer VJ Bacungan contributed to this report.