Tribal war displaces 50 families in NCotabato




The Manila Times


AN armed conflict erupted between two armed groups of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Pikit town, North Cotabato on Wednesday night, sending some 50 families evacuated to safer areas. “There were evacuees but many stayed with their relatives in nearby communities,” Maj. Maxim Peralta, Pikit police chief, said Thursday. Involved in the sporadic fighting using mortars and rocketpropelled grenades were followers of Bugdad Akas and Walid Mamasamlang, both MILF local leaders in Macabual village of the town. The village, with a population of around 4,500, now forms part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao after opting to join the fledging region during a two-part plebiscite in 2019. Peralta said the clan war erupted after the murder of Macabual village chairman Jalandoni Matalam Akas last month. He said the Akas family has accused Mamasamlang of being the perpetrator. Peacekeeping forces have been deployed near the village of Macabual to prevent the spread of the conflict. Peralta added that emissaries from the MILF central committee had also been sent to defuse tension. He said while the village is no longer under the jurisdiction of the Pikit police, they still provide security to adjacent communities that are still part of the municipality. Meanwhile, continuous rains caused floods in low-lying communities of Pikit and displaced at least 10,000 people after the Rio Grande de Mindanao and its tributaries overflowed the past four days following the heavy downpour in North Cotabato and Bukidnon provinces.