Clan wars testing Duterte martial law
ILIGAN CITY — A clan war that had wounded four people in a Lanao del Sur town is testing President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao, which supposedly bans carrying of firearms except for law enforcers on duty.
An investigation of the deadly feud between two clans in the town of Bacolod-Kalawi now included the possibility of police involvement in the clashes or lapses on their part, according to a top police official.
Chief Supt. Graciano Mijares, police chief of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said cases would be filed against members of the Bacolod-Kalawi police who either harbored gunmen from the warring clans or were themselves involved in the fighting.
Mijares, in a phone interview, said searches would also be conducted on houses of those involved in the clashes to track down firearms used by the warring clans.
The ARMM police chief also directed the Lanao del Sur provincial police office to coordinate with the military for a “focused operation” against members of the warring clans involved in the armed clashes.
No arrests have been made as a result of the clashes, which took place amid a total gun ban in Mindanao under Mr. Duterte’s martial law.
Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., deputy chief of the anticrime Joint Task Force Ranao, said police and military follow-up operations in Bacolod-Kalawi yielded high-powered firearms and ammunition.
In a statement, the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) based in Zamboanga City said as of Saturday, soldiers had seized nine firearms believed to be owned by the warring clans — three M-14 assault rifles, three M-16 assault rifles, two M-653 assault rifles and a .22-caliber rifle. Also seized were bullets and magazines.
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Westmincom commander, said an inspection of the seized firearms showed they had been recently fired. He said prints were being taken from the guns and efforts were being made to trace the firearms’ origin.
“Henceforth, this will be our template,” Galvez said. “The warring parties will be immediately disarmed and charged,” he said.
Brawner said the clash disrupted traffic on the highway. He said soldiers from the 65th Infantry Battalion were forced to open fire in self-defense.
To end the clans’ clash, soldiers fired on both sides and enforced a ceasefire.
Clan wars had been among the most serious threats to Lanao del Sur’s peace and order for years.
Among the cases attributed to clan war, or “rido,” was the 2015 ambush in the town of Lumbaca-Unayan, which killed seven people and wounded 11 others. —Reports from Divina Uson and Julie S. Alipala