Hon. Abdulghani ‘Gerry’ Ajul Salapuddin, the lucky 13th Administrator and Chief Executive Officer of Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA), was appointed on February 2, 2018 by His Excellency President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines. He assumed stewardship of the Authority on February 6, 2018, four days after the Presidential appointment.
Admittedly, Administrator Gerry’s life during his student days had always been very challenging but with flying colors, being a consistent honor student from elementary up to high school. He was born a leader as manifested by his being president in his class and in the Student Government in high school.
In the political arena prior to his government service, Administrator Gerry Salapuddin had been an active combatant- commander of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) where his adventures in both land and sea against the government almost took his precious life in the 1980s. He returned back to the mainstream of society in 1984. His recruitment into the Moro struggle was a consequence of his parents’ failure to support him in his college studies because of economic difficulty. That’s why, in 1972, when he accepted the offer of the government to come down from the hills to rejoin the mainstream of society, his first request from the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos was to give his constituents a State College and a scholarship program in order to make the youth avail of free education in college. He wanted to give the youth what he was deprived of during his younger days.
For 21 long years, Administrator Salapuddin had a very fruitful and fulfilling years in the government and public service, being a member of the Executive Council of the defunct Regional Autonomous Government (RAG) of Region IX, Zamboanga City (1984-1986) ; Provincial Governor of Basilan for a decade (1988-1998); Representative in the Lone District of Basilan (1998-2007); and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 12th and 13th Congress (2002-2007).
Childhood and Early Years
SPDA Administrator Abdulghani ‘Gerry’ Ajul Salapuddin was born in Tuburan, Muhammad Ajul Municipality, Basilan Province, on March 25, 1952. He started his education at Tuburan Elementary School bagging excellent academic achievements as he consistently pocketed the first honors place in his class from grades one to five. He graduated elementary as class valedictorian in 1966.
His first year high school education was taken at Basilan City High School (BCHS) in 1966 but after a year, he transferred to Lamitan Barangay High School (LBHS) where he took the second and third year high school formal education from 1968 to 1970. In 1971, Administrator Salapuddin returned back to Basilan City High School (BCHS) and ultimately completed secondary education, with honors, in 1972.
Ambitious and determined to pursue higher education, Administrator Gerry Salapuddin had moved to Zamboanga City to take Bachelor of Arts major in Political Science at Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) where he studied there for three years (1985-1988). After he finished third year in college at WMSU, Salapuddin had moved to Basilan State College (BaSC) where he finally earned the degree, AB Political Science, in 1990.
Administrator Salapuddin pursued his graduate and post-graduate studies at the Basilan State College (BaSC) where he finished Master in Public Administration (MPA) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), respectively.
Notable Accomplishments & Legacy
Unknown to many Mindanaoans, SDPA Administrator Abdulghani ‘Gerry’ A. Salapuddin has a golden heart for all the uneducated and less fortunate youthful individuals in Mindanao especially those deserving ones. Thus, to avail of an affordable but high quality standards in formal education, Administrator Salapuddin founded the Basilan State College (BaSC). The main campus of the BaSC is located in Isabela City with two other college extensions in Lamitan City, the campuses in Sta. Clara and Tinambakan; Maluso Campus; and in Tipo-Tipo Campus, Basilan Province. The campus in Sta. Clara is offering Agriculture and Secondary Courses.
Administrator Salapuddin, as the Founding Father of Basilan State College (BaSC) and a Government Official, had been able to provide scholarship grants to deserving youthful individuals in Mindanao. So far, more than 5,000 very lucky grantees of the program had successfully finished their studies in college.
Other notable accomplishments of SPDA Administrator Gerry Salapuddin include the following: Principal Author of Republic Act 9054, the amended Organic Act of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM); Author of Republic Act 9023, the Cityhood of Isabela; Author of Republic Act 9393, the Cityhood of Lamitan; Original Author of the law which created the National Commission for Muslim Filipinos (NCMF); and the author of the nationalization of the Basilan Circumferential Road (BCR).