Warring kin clash anew over land in N. Cotabato; 120 families displacedBy Charlie Señase, Williamor Magbanua
MLANG, North Cotabato –- A 21-year old unsettled land conflict – which had killed 15 people in the past — brought two relatives into the battlefield anew last Friday, Mayor Joselito Piñol said Wednesday.
At least 120 families — composed of 309 individuals -– were displaced anew when the groups of Gani Saligan and Isabel Manuang, both commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) clashed in Barangay (village) Dugong here.
Piñol said it was not clear whether or not there were casualties among the warring groups, but added that residents had feared about more skirmishes due to the unsettled contesting claims on a 10-hectare area in Dugong.
Piñol said he and other local officials were now talking with local religious leaders for possible mediation.
“Actually these MILF commanders are relatives. I told them to stop fighting and instead suggested that both parties sit down and talk to resolve the decades-old land conflict in Barangay Dugong,” he said.
In Cotabato City, the regional police chief of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) said feuds – now involving 42 families – remained the biggest headache for authorities.
Chief Superintendent Beinvenido Latag said a united peace-keeping effort was needed to resolve the feuds that most often than not, cause violence that triggers evacuations.
“We cannot do this alone. We need the cooperation of local executives, the religious sector and families not directly involved but affected by the clan wars,” he said.
Latag said the problem was being compounded by the fact that some local officials in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi were also involved in the feuds.
Among these was the political feud between the Mangudadatu and Ampatuan families of Maguindanao, which resulted in the 2009 massacre of 57 people -– mostly journalists.
“The killing of a family member could be due to politics, power struggle, land ownership dispute or other personal animosities that traditionally lead to retaliatory attacks and more killings,” said Mindanao State University professor Salipada Tamano.