Friday Jun, 05 2020 05:07:37 AM

Governor Catamco settles “rido” in Matalam, lets parties sign peace pact

Mindanao Armed Conflict • 20:30 PM Wed May 13, 2020
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press statement
Cotabato Gov. Nancy Catamco and Brig. Gen. Roberto Capulong, 602nd brigade commander led the rido settlement involving Moro clans. (LGU photos)

CARMEN, North Cotabato – Cotabato Gov. Nancy Catamco today convened the warring families in Matalam, North Cotabato and successfully convinced the warring parties to a diplomatic arrangement and signed a peace pact.

The signing of peace covenant signaled the end of weeks of hostilities involving members of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), led by Datu Dima Ambel and members of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) led by Naig Naga and his family.

"Peace is a choice. If all of us here choose peace and we learn to let go of anger, pain, revenge, then we have chosen peace,” Catamco told representatives of warring families, military and police officials and civil leaders.

BGen Roberto Capulong, 602ns Army Brigade commander, hosted the dialogue and asked affected parties to cooperate to come up with understanding on both sides. "Hindi ako papayag na matapos ang araw na ito na hindi tayo nagkaroon ng kasunduan," he said firmly.

The clan of MNLF’s Dima Ambel whose son Norodin was killed in an ambush last week was crying for justice but expressed willingness to work with government troops and respect the process that has to be undertaken.

His brothers and relatives, speaking before the dialogue participants, said: "We have respectfully worked hand in hand with the local officials even in times when they are being challenged.” They cited the killing that took place involving their sons and brothers.

Uztadz Alimudin Omar, commander of MILF’s 108th Brigade Command, revealed that he already ordered all MILF ground commanders in the area to back off and cease firing their guns and conducted initial investigation.

Omar said MILF Chairman Al haj Murad Ebrahim and Datu Muslimen Sema, chair of MNLF Council of 15, had already created an investigating teams and come up with some resolution.

"I am willing to spend three days, listening to both sides and to all affected families, if this is what it takes to come up with a lasting solution to this conflict," our Governor said and stressed that justice has to be defined well in the dialogue.

Both parties agreed to a ceasefire to be observed by both sides and to religiously abide the agreement which was signed beforehand by the newly created investigating team.

The peace pact was signed by Datu Alex Ambel for the MNLF Misuari Group, Salipada Mangako of the MNLF 15 Men Council Vice Chairman, Datu Sibangan Command and Uztadz Alimudin Omar for the MILF. To stand witness on this pact is our Governor NC, BGen Capulong, VM Cheryl Valdevieso of Matalam, Habib Guibar of MILF LMT, PNP Provincial Director Col. Henry Villar and representatives of the Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities.

The peace pact stipulated that both sides must stay in their respective areas, avoid provocative statement and avoid display of firearms, especially the on areas of jurisdiction.

The suspects who were under custody of H Bayan Base camp will be turned over to the MILF main base in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao for further investigation.

A body was formed to monitor compliance and implementation of the agreement.

Our Governor also directs the AFP and PNP to do their part in sustaining the peace and order amidst this agreement to ensure the protection of the civilians.

Both camps also agreed to allow all evacuees to return home.

On her part, Matalam Vice Mayor Cheryl V Catamco has appealled to both camps to cooperate and join the effort of LGU in the quest for peace.

"I’m still young you are already there,” she said referring to officials of MNLF and MILF in Matalam.

“I know the MILF and MNLF leaders, our children have grown up already and yet you are still here fighting each other,” she said, adding “I appeal to all the leaders here to join me and my father in achieving sustainable peace."

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