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Feuding Moro groups irk Maguindanao residents

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Maguindanao villagers called on Muslim clerics to issue a fatwah (edict) against a village chief and his followers after they repeatedly attempted to drive away members of Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Rajah Buayan town.

The incident resulted to the displacement of thousands of residents in the area.

The military has already reported to the ceasefire committee the "misbehavior" of Jerry Macalay, chairman of Barangay Tabungao in Rajah Buayan, who is at odds with local MILF forces led by Commander Adzmi Tagadaya.

“His actuations are bad for the on-going peace process between the government and the MILF. He should be censured," Mohammad Gapur, a father of six, told reporters.

Members of Rajah Buayan's municipal peace and order council said many evacuees wanted the Islamic Darul Iftah (House of Opinions) to issue a fatwah declaring Macalay and his men as bughaat, which Arabic term that can either mean stubborn or abusive.

More than 3,000 people were displaced in last week's fierce encounters between Tagadaya and Macalay's group.

The chief of the MILF’s 106th Base Command, Adan Abdullah, and the local government of Rajah Buayan tried to formulate local security measures meant to stave off escalation of hostilities between the groups of Macalay and Tagadaya.

The mayor of Raja Buayan municipality, Yacob Ampatuan, said the hostilities erupted when Macalay and his men raided the territory of Tagadaya.

Macalay and his men have long been trying to evict the group of Tagadaya, who belong to the MILF’s 106th Base Command.

“The government’s ceasefire committee should immediately intervene and do something about the wrongdoings of this barangay chairman who does not respect the ceasefire between the government and the MILF,” Ampatuan said.

Ampatuan said barangay officials confirmed that the firefights figured by Macalay’s group and local MILF guerillas last week left several fighters dead on both sides.

“Some fighters from both sides have also been wounded since they used heavy firepower to overcome each other,” Ampatuan said.

The local police said Macalay’s men looted houses and carted farm animals of the MILF rebels.

Major Gen. Rey Ardo, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said soldiers in Rajah Buayan are to coordinate their efforts to pacify the feuding groups with the government’s Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities.

“This is delicate situation because this involves MILF forces. There are agreed protocols, crafted by the MILF and the government on how to address this kind of security problems,” Ardo said. 
John Unson | The Philippine Star | March 06, 2012 01:32 PM | Article Link


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