Maguindanao mayor survives ambush; councilor, 3 relief workers hurt
COTABATO CITY – Mayor Reynalbert Insular of South Upi, Maguindanao survived an ambush that injured a town councilor and three relief workers in Barangay Pandan, South Upi town on Sunday.
The mayor was with members of the South Upi Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) heading back to town when unidentified gunmen positioned at both sides of the road in Barangay Pandan opened fire at their convoy at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 3.
The team just came from a relief mission to families displaced by armed conflict in Barangay Itaw when they were ambushed.
Major Gen. Juvymax Uy, 6th Infantry Division commander, said elements of the 57th Infantry Battalion rescued the victims and rushed them to the hospital.
The injured town official and disaster workers are now being treated at a government hospital in Cotabato City, some 60 kilometers away from South Upi.
After the ambush, two attack helicopters fired rockets and opened fire with machineguns at the fleeing suspects who reportedly escaped toward the upland communities of Talayan, Datu Saudi and Datu Unsay towns in Maguindanao.
Dozens of ethnic Teduray families in Barangay Itaw fled their homes on New Year’s Day when gunmen, believed to be the same persons involved in the ambush, shot several houses in their village, Uy said.
“They want us to leave our ancestral lands,” one of the evacuees said. “This is about land conflict, we are asking the (Philippine) Army to put up CAFGU (Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit) detachment here.”