Ceasefire committee working to defuse clan clash in Maguindanao town
John Unson (Philstar.com) - May 17, 2016 - 7:20am

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - The joint ceasefire committee of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is trying to broker a truce between two partisan groups that figured in post-election hostilities in Talitay town last weekend.

Firefights on Saturday between the supporters of the Sabal and Buisan clans left four people dead and forced 136 families to leave their homes. They are now in makeshift relief centers in barangays northwest of the municipality.

The newly reelected mayor of Talitay, Muntasir Sabal, has assured the police and the military that he will restrain his followers whom he said were attacked first by armed men identified with elders of the Buisan clan.

The joint ceasefire committee, or Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, is comprised of representatives from the rebel group, the police and the military, whose primary function is to peacefully address security problems in areas covered by the 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities between the government and the MILF.

Some MILF members took sides and figured prominently in the Talitay hostilities, which waned late Saturday when members of the committee arrived to intervene.

Chief Supt. Ronald Estilles, director of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) police, on Tuesday morning said efforts are now underway to settle the security issues in Talitay through diplomacy.

He said the Talitay municipal police remains in control of the municipality and has even succeeded in working out, along with local leaders and representatives from the MILF, the prompt disengagement of the rival groups.

In an email to The STAR Monday, the provincial peace and order council, chaired by Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, said the MILF leadership managed to talk the feuding groups to reposition away from the affected barangays so evacuees could go home.

The firefights last Saturday were precipitated by the death of a certain Bayan Buisan on May 8, who was killed by gunmen identified with the other camp.

Local officials said supporters of the Buisan family, armed with assault rifles, surrounded the town proper of Talitay late Friday and fired at followers of the reelectionist mayor the next day, sparking a series of firefights.

The Sabal and Buisan clans have been locked political rivals since the campaign period for the 2013 elections. Animosity between them increased when the clans fielded candidates in the May 9 elections.

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