KIDAPAWAN CITY - Some 60-armed members of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) raided a Moro community in a town in Makilala, North Cotabato, and carted away 16 firearms, at 3:15 p.m. last Saturday, an Army official said.
Lt. Manuel Gatus, commander of the Charlie Company of the 57th Infantry Battalion, said the rebels arrived on foot at Sitio Lacobe in Barangay Malabuan in Makilala town and pretended they were soldiers from the 38th Infantry Battalion allegedly tasked to get the villagers' firearms for inspection.
"The villagers, mostly members of a Maguindanaon tribe, were told to gather at the village center for a meeting and while this was on going, some of the rebels forcibly entered the houses and confiscated whatever firearms they could recover from the place," Gatus said.
Gatus said the rebels confiscated eight home-made Uzi pistols, five home-made Ingram pistols, two 38 caliber revolvers, and an M-79 grenade launcher.
The guns, said Gatus, are owned by the Baclid family and their relatives, many of whom are elements of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu).
The raid, the military official stressed, happened two weeks after the decades-old land conflict between the Baclid family and the Ilonggo settlers in the village was finally resolved through years of negotiations and interventions from the government, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), in particular.
The rebels are reportedly against the conflict resolution saying it was “unfair” and “unjust” on the part of the settlers.
Records from DAR showed a wide area of the land in conflict was given to the Baclid family.
The Baclids have long claimed sitio Lacobe as part of their ancestral land.
"In the 70s, during the wars in Mindanao, the Baclids were driven away from their lands. But in the 90s, when everything has returned to normalcy, they returned to their homes. They were surprised, however, to see Ilonggos tilling their lands," said Gatus, citing as basis the account of the Baclids.
The Ilonggos, however, claimed they bought the lands from landowners and other residents of the place. They showed as proof their land titles.
Gatus said that as soon as they confirmed reports the rebels raided the place and carted the villagers’ firearms they immediately sent teams to run after the NPAs whom they believed have set up bases along the boundary of Makilala and Tulunan towns in North Cotabato and in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat.