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Gunfights displace Moro, Teduray villagers in Maguindanao del Sur

Mindanao Armed Conflict • 12:45 PM Tue Aug 22, 2023
John Felix Unson
The most affected by the armed conflict in South Upi, Maguindanao del Sur are Teduray children.  (Photo by Fred Lorenzo)

COTABATO CITY --- Recurring gunfights among rival Moro groups in two towns in Maguindanao del Sur forced some 500 families to relocate to safe areas, leaving their livestock and harvestable crops behind.

Army Brig. Gen. Oriel L. Pangcog, commander of the Army’s 601st Brigade, said Tuesday at least 40 families in Barangay Sapakan in Mamasapano, Maguindanao del Sur were displaced by a spate of gunfights between two factions in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that started last weekend.

Pangcog said local officials are helping them settle the conflict between members of the MILF’s 118th and 106th Base Commands, still locked in a showdown in Barangay Sapakan.

Pangcog said the hostilities in Barangay Sapakan erupted after suspected members of the 106th BC had shot dead someone from the 108th BC, sparking clashes that caused the displacement of a number of Moro families.

Heavy exchanges of gunfire between both groups marred Monday’s peace dialogue between commanders from the two groups that Pangcog and municipal officials presided over to put closure to the animosity between them.

“We are trying our best to settle the dispute,” Pangcog said.

Hundreds of Moro and ethnic Teduray villagers in Barangays Lamod and Biarong in South Upi, a hinterland town in Maguindanao del Sur, also fled over the weekend to villages near the municipal capital due to clashes between two groups squabbling for control of both barangays.

Mayor Reynalbert Insular, chairman of the multi-sector South Upi Municipal Peace and Order Council, and the Army’s 6th Infantry Division had sent emissaries to the leaders of the feuding groups, one under Datu Kuno and the other led by a certain Mael Omar, to convince them to reconcile. 

A tribal chieftain, Timuay Labi Letecio Datuwata, told reporters Tuesday displaced Tedurays will not return to their villages without any formal settlement yet of the “rido,” meaning clan war in most Moro dialects, involving the Moro families in the two barangays.

“What is painful is that many of the evacuees left their farm animals and crops behind. They need help while in makeshift evacuation centers and in the houses of their relatives in faraway barangays,” Datuwata said.


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