BARMM forms body to address spate of killings in Cotabato
KORONADAL CITY—The Bangsamoro government has created “Task Force Reconciliation” to address the deadly conflict between local armed groups in Pikit town of Cotabato province that has claimed at least a dozen lives since the start of the year.
Bangsamoro Interim Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim called a meeting on Saturday, which culminated with the creation of the task force tasked to resolve the sporadic skirmishes in Pikit.
The creation of a reconciliation committee “would prevent the recurring retaliations from parties involved in the feud and that it can ward off the escalation of conflict in the area,” Ebrahim said.
“We should identify the root cause of the problem and strengthen the reconciliation so that we could start to negotiate as soon as possible,” Ebrahim said in a report released by the Bangsamoro Information Office.
Land issues and injustices that were not redressed in the past surfaced during the meeting as among the root causes of the conflict, it added.
Senior Minister Abdulraof Macacua was assigned to head the task force, which will be composed of representatives from the local government units in Cotabato, the 6th Infantry Division, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Police Regional Office and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, among others.
Pikit Mayor Sumulong Sultan earlier asked the Bangsamoro government to help restore peace and order in his town.
In September, a misleading Facebook post claimed that Pikit had turned into a ghost town due to the “daily killings” that occurred in the municipality. Sultan admitted there was a peace and order problem in their municipality but insisted it was “business as usual” in his town.
In the last few months, at least a dozen individuals have been killed in separate incidents in the town, eight of them in August.
Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza appealed to constituents in Pikit to help authorities solve the spate of killings in the area that reportedly sowed fear among the residents.
“We need the people of Pikit to unite and fight for peace together,” she said in a statement.
Most of the killings reportedly occurred in the villages of Pikit that form part of the Bangsamoro Special Geographic Area (SGA), which is composed of 22 of the 42 villages of the town.
From six towns in Cotabato, 63 villages opted for inclusion to the BARMM. They are collectively called the SGA. Pikit town, however, still remains a part of Soccsksargen or Region 12.
Since January, more than 20 persons have been killed in a series of shooting incidents in Pikit. The victims included women, farmers, militiamen, and even soldiers and policemen.