Violence erupts in Recodo land dispute: 1 dead, 7 hurt PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 04 May 2014 14:06

A 22-year-old man was killed and seven others were wounded as violence erupted yesterday in Recodo where a land dispute was brewing between residents and Dacon Company since two weeks ago.

Police gathered that the violence broke out when angry residents attacked the Dacon Compound and one of them reportedly lobbed a grenade into the compound prompting the company’s security personnel to open fire which triggered a shootout.

Daily Zamboanga Times sources said that incensed residents attacked the Dacon compound after its management reneged its promise to temporarily suspend the construction of a perimeter fence during a tripartite dialogue among the two parties and some officials led by Councilor Roel “Elong” Natividad.

Before 11 a.m. yesterday, some residents found out that Dacon personnel resumed  the construction of the fence that would block the road leading to a community mosque.

Acting City Police Director Sr. Supt. Angelito Casimiro identified the fatality as Mudin Hamja.

All seven wounded are from the Dacon side. Six of them were identified as Elmer Tadeo, Ariston Saratao, John Rey Maghanoy, Enrico Menor, Robert Glog and Loreto Morales Amu. Four of them were militiamen and two Dacon employees.

The shootout triggered an evacuation among hundreds of families and the blocking of the West Coast highway where Task Force Zamboanga soldiers and police troopers with armored vehicles took position to prevent more bloodshed.

Sr. Supt. Casimiro led policemen in securing the area and called for mediation to stop the two feuding groups from firing their guns.

The soldiers and policemen were also deployed to prevent outside forces sympathetic to the residents in joining the fray.

The dispute deteriorated and turned violent three days ago when residents attacked the Dacon Compound with stones and  Dacon personnel retaliated by also throwing back stones onto the residents. The incident prompted city and police officials led by Councilor Natividad and Sr. Supt. Casimiro to call the dialogue where it was agreed that the fencing be temporarily suspended. However,the agreement was reportedly violated by Dacon whose personnel resumed yesterday the construction of the fence which angered the affected residents.

The root of the dispute is the land area being occupied by Dacon and its management asserts they have legal documents for the land occupation. On the other hand, heirs of the late Sultan Astaluddin Jalilul Mohammad Alam claim the Dacon site and all surrounding vicinities in Recodo and Cawit belong to the sultan by virtue of a Presidential Proclamation No. 236 approved by President Manuel L. Quexon on April 24, 1937

Nur Sangkula Sahibul, spokesman of the ASTA (Asian Sultanate Tribal Advocate) Royale Heritage Foundation, Inc., said in an interview with Anadolu correspondent Hader Glang they want their land rights acknowledged by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Sahibul claimed that in the past when their late grandfather was still alive, some big firms like the Dacon Company asked permission to put up small operations in the area until such time they disregarded to have terms with them.

“We ask the support of MILF chairman Al haj Murad Ebrahim to help us get back our 8.0590 hectares of land which was squattered from us,” he said.

“We’re the family heirs of our late grandfather (Sultan Astaluddin Alam). We want to recover our land. This is our legacy for the coming generations for the Bangsamoro people in Zamboanga Peninsula particularly in the west coast,” he stressed.

According to Sahibul, the presence of Sultan Astaluddin Alam from Brunei to Cawit-Recodo fishing village spread so fast like a wild fire during his migration that time that reached even Malacanang Palace.

He said throughout history, Sultan Astaluddin Alam has left a legacy, for which he will always be remembered.

“His ways on truth, justice, unity, and love, have shaped his descendants-followers’ revival for growth, peace and development in the region,” said Sahibul in the interview.

Princess Nur-Aina Mohammad Araji, one of the heirs of Sultan Astaluddin, said that they have come out in the open  to show their support to the peace deal between the government and the MILF which they believe could help resolve problems on peace and order in the south.

Local history says In 1936, then President Manuel L. Quezon visited Cawit-Recodo village, Zamboanga City. His visit was met and warmly welcomed by Sultan Astaluddin Alam himself, Maharaja Araji, Panglima Sangkula, Panglima Sawaldi, Panglima Handang, as their spokesman, and Panglima Daris.

As a token  of the memorable and historical visit, President Quezon was offered by Sultan Astaluddin Alam a kris kalis (sword) and pearl (mussah), as an appreciation  for the visit in Cawit-Recodo.

In return, the President asked the Sultan if what he wanted and would do it for him. “Sultan Astaluddin Alam replied that he wanted the Cawit-Recodo area be given to them by the President so that their families would be protected from the invaders in the future.

Sultan Astaluddin Alam’s request was granted by President Quezon through Presidential Proclamation No. 236 and was approved on April 24, 1937, declaring Cawit-Recodo area  as a “Muslim Reservation Area,” or Recodo, Sulu, Mindanao, State of the Princess, covering an 8.5 hectares.

The area extended from the small bridge of Cawit called “Tumba Moro” to the small bridge of Parula Recodo, going to Dacon ship dockyard area.

“The Muslim Reservation Area in Cawit-Recodo is a historical landmark where the royal blood families (Malayu Brunayan tribe) and their followers peacefully and happily live,” said Sahibul.