Mediators resolving bloody Cotabato clan war

John Unson - Philstar.com
Mediators resolving bloody Cotabato clan war
Members of the Army's 90th Infantry Battalion are tightly guarding strategic areas in Barangay Macabual in Pikit town.
Philstar.com / John Unson

PIKIT, Cotabato — Guns are silent since Friday in Barangay Macabual here, scene of bloody clashes between two Moro groups locked in a “rido” related to a murder incident early on.

Rido is a generic term for clan war in many southern Mindanao vernaculars.

The two groups, one led by Bugdad Matalam Akas and the other by Walid Mamasamlang, had moved out of Sitio Galigayanan in Barangay Macabual here through the intercession of the Army’s 90th Infantry Battalion, an intervention meant to give local officials leeway in resolving the conflict amicably with the help of Muslim religious leaders.

Major Gen. Roy Galido, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said Saturday he will not hesitate to use force against the two groups if they refuse to cooperate with local officials, the police and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front now together trying to reconcile them.

“Everything is being done to prevent confrontations that can endanger the lives of innocent civilians,” Galido said.

Akas and Mamasamlang would neither confirm nor deny the assertions by villagers, forced to relocate to safer areas by the hostilities, that both camps suffered fatalities in gunfights on Wednesday night until Thursday morning.

Barangay elders said the two groups each lost two members in the encounters that sent hundreds of Sitio Galigayanan residents running for their lives.

A non-Moro villager, Lito Quiñones, was killed in the crossfire.

Barangay officials have also confirmed to reporters that Akas and Mamasamlang are both members of the MILF.

“The government and the MILF have mechanisms on how to peacefully address security issues like that. The presence of our troops in the area is aimed at preventing hostilities while a local peace process is underway,” Galido said.

He said the battalion commander of the 90th IB, Lt. Col. Rommel Mundala, the municipal police and local officials, among them senior members of the multi-sector municipal peace and order council, had succeeded in working out the disengagement of the feudal groups.

Traditional Moro elders here said the showdown is related to the fatal ambush last month of Macabual’s barangay chairman, Jalandoni Matalam Akas, by suspected followers of Mamasamlang.

Major Maxim Peralta, chief of the Pikit Municipal Police, said the equally large Matalam and Akas clans have tagged Mamasamlang as the mastermind in the murder of the barangay official.

The barangay captain was riding his motorcycle, en route to somewhere in Pikit from Barangay Macabual, when men with pistols attacked, killing him on the spot.  


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