Troops tighten security after gunfights in Maguindanao
John Unson (Philstar.com) - November 10, 2015 - 1:00am

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - Authorities on Tuesday tightened security at the tri-boundary of three remote barangays in Datu Abdullah Sangki to prevent a repeat of Sunday’s gunfights between two local peasant groups.

The feuding Moro and Ilonggo groups are squabbling for control of a strategic 40-hectare agricultural land located at the center of Barangays Banaba, Talisawa and Guinibon in southwest of Datu Abdullah Sangki.

Lt. Col. Ricky Bunayog, commanding officer of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion (IB), said they now have a detachment in the area as part of the effort to protect Muslim and Christian residents from possible attacks by either groups.

The 33rd IB has jurisdiction over Datu Abdullah Sangki and surrounding towns in the 2nd district of Maguindanao.

Barangay folks had said five gunmen from both sides perished in Sunday’s encounter, where protagonists traded shots using assault rifles and shoulder-fire 40 millimeter grenade launchers.

Anwar Emblawa, an incumbent municipal councilor, said he received feedback from villagers that five were killed in the incident.

“The report is persistent but we still have to do some validations,” he said.

Emblawa said their mayor, Miriam Sangki-Mangudadatu, is now trying to resolve the conflict via diplomatic interventions.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, chairperson of the provincial peace and order council, said his emissaries are now helping the Datu Abdullah Sangki local government unit (LGU) find lasting solutions to the dispute.

Bunayog said leaders of the two rival peasant groups have been invited to a peace dialogue to be presided over by LGU officials on Thursday.

Bunayog said he had also received information that five were killed in Sunday’s incident, but emphasized he can only confirm the deaths of two, Commanders Hudas and Budoy, both Ilonggos.

The slain commanders both led amulet-wearing armed Ilonggo fanatical followers hostile to Moro rebels.

“We are hoping the feuding groups will agree to a peaceful settlement of that land conflict,” Bunayog said.

He also clarified that the role of his men in the area now is to prevent both groups from getting close to each other while efforts to reconcile them are underway.

“Our soldiers are performing very neutral peacekeeping missions in support of the efforts of the local police to prevent escalation of hostilities there,” Bunayog said.

ACIRC ANWAR EMBLAWA BARANGAYS BANABA BUNAYOG COMMANDERS HUDAS AND BUDOY DATU ABDULLAH SANGKI ESMAEL MANGUDADATU INFANTRY BATTALION MAGUINDANAO GOV MIRIAM SANGKI-MANGUDADATU NBSP
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