Barangay chief, MILF commander clash

Posted at 01/08/2014 6:50 PM

MIDSAYAP - Skirmishes between a village chairman and a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Commander in Brgy. Lumupog in Midsayap town North Cotabato erupted Tuesday night.

The group of Lumupog Brgy. Chairman Datu Puti Tukuran and MILF Commander Abas Kudanding were the ones involved in the recent firefight in the area believed to be due to a territorial dispute.

Tukuran also has some allies in the MILF.

It was early last year when the two warring groups fought resulting in hundreds of evacuees.

On Wednesday, an ABS-CBN News team was able to record the sound of exchange of gunfire in the area while checking the situation of the community in Brgy. Sambolawan.

Brgy. Sambolawan is adjacent to Brgy. Lumupog separated by a river, and across a fish landing area lies the battle ground of the two armed groups.

The warring groups are said to be occupying two positions at Brgy. Lumupog, and were said to be just observing the movements of each side.

Scared to get caught in the firefight, residents who fled their homes have been staying in a fish landing area at Brgy. Sambolawan over a year now.

Mama Guilay and his family have yet to return since the firefight last year.

"Takot kami kasi nagaputukan sila dun," Guilay said.

A woman with five children were left behind by her husband who joined the fighting and supported Brgy. Chairman Datu Puti Tukuran.

Speaking to ABS-CBN in Maguindanao dialect, she said her husband is helping his cousin who happens to be the barangay chairman.

Meantime, the local government unit has tasked the council of elders to talk and negotiate with the warring parties and deal with their differences peacefully.

Midsayap Mayor Romeo Araña said the dispute had already been settled.

"May nareceive kasi tayo na impormasyon na pride nalang yan kasi pareho sila may mga tauhan at pwersa eh. Last week daw, may sinunog na bahay sa side ni Abas Kudanding tapos sumunod naman sa side ni Datu Puti, parang gantihan nalang," Mayor Araña said.

The LGU wants it to be settled as soon as possible.

The MILF has started to send emissaries to talk with the commanders involved to agree on a ceasefire.

The military and PNP are looking out for the welfare of the residents in the adjacent barangay and will not meddle in the fighting as it is a rido between groups in the area.

As of writing, the firefight has died down while residents struggle to live a normal everyday life.