The price of change in Tukanalipao | Inquirer News

The price of change in Tukanalipao

/ 04:32 AM January 24, 2016

FATIMA Sandigan, 39, widow of a Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighter, shows a family picture as she holds her daughter inside their house in Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao province. JEOFFREY MAITEM

FATIMA Sandigan, 39, widow of a Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighter, shows a family picture as she holds her daughter inside their house in Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao province. JEOFFREY MAITEM

It took 66 lives—44 elite police commandos, 17 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) guerrillas and five civilians—for a village’s dream to have a good road and a bridge to come true.

A resident had this to say when asked what he thought about projects that were pouring in in his village, Tukanalipao, the site of the bloodshed a year ago that marred an otherwise successful operation to capture or kill international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” and his Filipino deputy, Basit Usman. Marwan was killed, but Usman managed to escape.


“I am happy that we now have a concrete road and a steel-wood bridge. But I am sad that many lives were lost before we can have it,” Abdullah Amerudin, 38, told the Inquirer.


Officials in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) facilitated the construction of more than 880 meters of concrete road from the highway leading to the encounter site, and a 120-m steel-wood bridge.

The projects’ total cost was around P20 million, according to Mamasapano town Mayor Benzar Ampatuan.

“It’s a big help. But why did some people have to die before we can have it?” he said.

Months after the bloodshed, Amerudin said, tourists have been coming to have their pictures taken with the iconic wooden bridge near where the fighting happened.

Usman’s death is to come after Marwan’s in Guindulungan town, Maguindanao province, in May last year.

As they withdrew from Mamasapano, the police commandos who killed Marwan were fired at by men believed to be members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a breakaway group of the MILF.


From a distance, another Special Action Force (SAF) group belonging to the 55th Company and which served as a blocking force, clashed with MILF members.

Abdul Wahab, 37, a farmer who owned the 2-hectare corn farm where the fighting happened last year, told the Inquirer that he lost at least P40,000 in crops. He has not been paid.

“There were promises made by some politicians, but they were just good at talking,” he said.

Fatima Sandigan, 39, mother of three and wife of an MILF fighter who died in the clash, said she received only P11,000 in compensation.

Sandigan said her husband, Mamarizah, 33, was convinced by friends to join the MILF before the clash.

“His assignment was to be a lookout,” Sandigan said, adding that Mamarizah owned no weapon.

At dawn of Jan. 25 last year, Sandigan recalled, they were awakened by gunfire.

“We thought it was just normal because from time to time there are cattle rustlers. But the gunfire did not stop so he (Mamarizah) said he needed to check what was happening. That was the last conversation we had,” she said.

By 10 a.m., Sandigan was told that her husband was already dead.

“He was beyond recognition because bullets hit his face,” she said. Worse, Sandigan said, her husband’s death made them poorer.

“Whenever we don’t have food on the table, my eldest son (9 years old) would blame me for allowing his father to leave the house that dawn,” she said.

The P11,000 she got she used to start a small retail store, which has since closed.

But Sandigan has another dream—not a paved road or a Bailey bridge in the village.

“I want to work abroad because I do not have a stable income here. I earn by being a farm helper,” she said.

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“If I leave to work abroad, my sister-in-law promised she’ll take care of the children,” she added.

TAGS: Maguindanao, Mamasapano, MILF, SAF group, Tukanalipao

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