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MILF commander arrested for couple’s kidnap; insurgents threaten Lanao Norte town

/ 05:38 PM June 22, 2014

Members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front AP FILE PHOTO

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Moro gunmen have moved out of Pantao Ragat town in Lanao del Norte, but the police and military still placed the entire on alert for possible attacks.

Lacson Lantud, vice mayor of Pantao Ragat town, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone Sunday that no representative from the government nor from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) came to their town to help them resolve the security problem.

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“It looks like they were ignoring our situation here,” Lantud said.

He said a team from the Malaysian International Peace Monitor went to the provincial capitol, but instead of helping ease the situation, they asked to take custody of Majid Abuat, the MILF commander that was arrested for alleged kidnapping.

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“The rebels withdrew, but it does not mean it’s OK now,” he said.

Lantud earlier reported of an “impending attack” by some 700 armed followers of Bravo, an MILF field commander.

Bravo, whose real name is Abdullah Macapaar, was the same senior MILF commander who led attacks in the two Lanao provinces in 2008 following the scuttling of the so-called Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain between the Philippine government then led by the Arroyo administration and the MILF. The Supreme Court struck down the deal as unconstitutional.

Lantud said according to “reports,” Bravo was “planning to raid” the municipality to rescue a comrade who was captured following the abduction of a teacher and her husband three days ago.

The situation in the town started on June 18 when Bravo’s men seized public school teacher Aslaime Pangader and her husband Nait as they were heading home on a motorcycle.

Authorities went after the abductors, capturing Majid Abuat. But as far as Bravo is concerned, according to Lantud, the seizure of the Pangader couple was an “arrest” by the MILF because they owed someone in another town some money that needed to be paid back.

Lantud said prior to the massing up of Bravo’s men, the MILF leader demanded Abuat’s release but this was denied.

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Col. Madid Paitao, police chief of Lanao del Norte, said they could not just release Abuat due to his pending multiple murder charges.

“He is now detained at the provincial jail. We need a court order before we turn him over to any group,” he said.

Butch Malang, chief of the MILF coordinating committee on cessation of hostilities, said they already sent men to talk to Bravo’s men.

“The issue about Bravo’s issuance of arrest warrant is now being investigated. We are checking on it,” he said.

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TAGS: Abdullah Macapaar, Armed conflict, armed groups, Bravo, Crime, Kidnapping, Majid Abuat, MILF renegade groups, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, News, Regions
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