2,000 families flee fighting between 2 village chiefs in Maguindanao

More News from Charlie C. Señase

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Some 2,000 families or about 10,000 people fled to the town center of Rajah Buayan, Maguindanao, following clashes between armed followers of two town village chiefs on Sunday.

The latest violence in the restive province was brought about by a dispute between Duma Ugayan and Jerry Macalay, village chairs of Malipodok and Baital, respectively, according to Zamzamin Ampatuan, Barangay Poblacion chair.

Ampatuan, also chair of the town’s village chiefs association, said the affected families were from seven villages adjoining Malipodok and Baital.

He said the clashes only stopped when soldiers from the 1st Mechanized Brigade arrived.

Ampatuan said the root of the dispute between the two village chiefs was still unclear as of Monday, but initial information had indicated it was triggered by fight over territorial and political control.

“We are still in the process of verification, which we expect to obtain during the peace meeting,” he said.

Lt. Col. Marvin Licodine, commander of the 45th Infantry Battalion, said military intelligence records showed that Ugayan was once a fighter with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The MNLF signed a peace accord with the government in 1996 but its members were never disarmed.

A military source said firearms – whether legal or illegal – have remained common among influential residents of Maguindanao, who have been engaged in disputes.

Buayan Mayor Jacob Ampatuan said social workers had been deployed to the affected villages to assess the needs of the evacuees.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said disputes between families have to be addressed through the courts and not in the battlefields.

“We will never grow and enjoy life unless we learn to forgive and allow the justice system to work. Unity and reconciliation is the call of the time,” he said as he appealed to warring factions to shy away from violence.

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  • watot

    GMA counter offered them 101million. Bat hindi nagalit si Mirriam sa defense team? One sided coin!

  • adamson11

    this is still area controlled by the ampatuans, zamzamin ampatuan who is lackey of andal ampatuan sr is himself part of this conflict, kunwari lang siya ang naga ayus ng areglo na yan. the moro rebels is the convenient excuse as usual… sana wala ng mga ampees na yan pero dahil sa nakaw pera may mga sundalo sa bulsa pa rin nila….

  • 711sense

    Fighting and killing continuous because our government is so weak in disarming this people. Our government is busy eliminating their so-called enemies, they forget to stop the other problems that besieged our country. They are good in making promises but has done nothing to stop the killings in our country. What happens to the promise of disarming private armies? My recommendation is place the cops and the AFP under the total control of their commanders and the assignment of commanders is done by their respective Chiefs and not with approval of the local government.

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