Muslim clerics, indigenous priests pray for Mamasapano victims
John Unson (Philstar.com) - January 24, 2016 - 10:21pm

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines – Ecumenical prayers for the dead officiated by Muslim clerics and indigenous priests from the Cordillera Region capped off Monday’s commemoration of the first anniversary of the “Mamasapano incident” in the province.

At least 14 of the 44 members of the police’s Special Action Force (SAF) killed in the deadly Jan. 25, 2015 hostilities in Mamasapano town in the second district of Maguindanao were from Cordillera in the far north.

A group from the Cordillera provinces, led by the region’s multi-tribal Council of Elders and two traditional religious leaders in their scant, but colorful native attires, came to Barangay Tukanalipao in Mamasapano for the rituals.

The ecumenical prayers for the 44 SAF men, 17 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the five innocent civilians that perished in the incident were jointly assisted by the commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and peace advocacy groups helping push the Southern Mindanao peace process forward.

The guests from Cordillera provinces were accompanied to Barangay Tukanalipao west of Mamasapano by members of the government-MILF ceasefire committee, officials of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) and Mangudadatu’s representative, provincial budget officer Lynette Estandarte.

The IMT, comprised of soldiers from Malaysia, Brunei, Libya, and Indonesia and non-uniformed conflict resolution experts from Norway, the European Union and Japan, has been helping oversee since 2003 the enforcement of an interim government-MILF ceasefire in flashpoint areas in Mindanao.

Mangudadatu, chair of the provincial peace and order council, said residents of Maguindanao, which has 36 towns, do not want any repeat of any violent encounter between government and MILF forces anywhere in the province that can derail the Mindanao peace process.

The Mamasapano incident shook the nation to its core and challenged the now 19-year government-MILF peace overture.

It also stymied the passage by Congress of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, the enabling measure for the creation of an MILF-led Bangsamoro political entity.

The creation of the new and more empowered Bangsamoro self-governing entity, to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, is premised on the final government-MILF peace compact, the March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.

A group of ethnic Maguindanaon clerics also held prayer rites at the scene of the deadly SAF-MILF encounter.

The hostilities also involved a third group, the brigand Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, which is not covered by the government-MILF ceasefire accord.

Estandarte, concurrent chief of Maguindanao’s provincial emergency and disaster response team, also led a relief mission for children and elderly people in Mamasapano’s adjoining Barangays Tukanalipao and Linantangan after the worship rituals.

The humanitarian outreach activity was bankrolled by the office of Mangudadatu.

ACIRC AUTONOMOUS REGION BANGSAMORO BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW BANGSAMORO ISLAMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERS BARANGAY TUKANALIPAO BARANGAYS TUKANALIPAO AND LINANTANGAN MAGUINDANAO MAMASAPANO MANGUDADATU MILF
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