Marines settles bloody Maguindanao land feud PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 September 2014 11:58

Feuding Moro and Christian residents in hostile enclaves in South Upi, Maguindanao began observing on Wednesday a truce to pave the way for the resolution of their deadly squabbles for control of patches of arable lands.

The rival groups also agreed, during a dialogue Tuesday, to let traditional leaders, the police and the military to jointly set the demarcations that would separate their respective territories to forestall encroachments that can lead to firefights.

The truce between the Moro people and Christians at Sitios Bahar and Pomogoyon in Barangay Pandan was brokered by local officials, representatives of the joint ceasefire committee of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the commanding officer of the 1st Marine Brigade, Col. Emmanuel Salamat.

The enemy groups, one comprised of Maguindanaons, some of them members of the Moro National Liberation Front, and the other, composed of non-Moro indigenous Tedurays and Ilonggo settlers, last figured in an encounter three weeks ago.

The firefight resulted to the deaths of a peasant each from both sides, and the dislocation of dozens of families.

Salamat and Brig. Gen. Carlito Galvez, who is the incumbent chairman of the GPH ceasefire committee, separately urged members of the two communities to refrain from roaming in the contested lands carrying firearms to prevent hostilities while efforts to settle the land conflicts are still underway.

The animosity between the two peasant groups escalated four months ago with the fatal ambush of the barangay chairman of Pandan, whose followers are remnants of the dreaded anti-Muslim Ilaga vigilante group, which former President Ferdinand Marcos used to help quell the Moro secessionist uprising in the early 1970s.

Both sides conceded to a reconciliation process jointly proposed last week by Salamat and incumbent municipal officials.

The land conflicts started some four decades ago when the now defunct Presidential Arm for National Minorities awarded land control patents to Moro and non-Moro settlers based on anomalous “table surveys” of a very old map detailing the terrain and geographical landmarks of Barangay Pandan.

Local officials and the Marines will secure the barangay, meantime, while surveyors are trying to establish the boundaries of the contested farmlands using global positioning instruments and actual site inspections.

Salamat said Barangay Pandan has been quiet since Tuesday’s peace dialogue between the two groups.