KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/03 September) — Displaced families from Barangay Salat in President Roxas, site of the recent armed fighting between warring Moro groups, have refused to return home for fear they might again be caught in the crossfire.
Pandita Macalimbol, one of the evacuees, said armed men, coming from both sides, are still seen in the area.
There is yet no assurance they could return home safely, Macalimbol said.
Besides, he said, the armed men have burned their houses, including their farm products.
At least 37 families from Barangay Salat are housed temporarily in makeshift houses located near the barangay hall of Barangay Kisupaan.
“We have no water here. No electricity. Life here is very difficult. But living in a troubled village is a lot difficult for all of us,” said Macalimbol.
On August 25, Macalimbol and several other villagers evacuated to Barangay Kisupaan when armed men led by Daud Macaalay, former councilor of Barangay Salat, attacked the village, torched the houses, and burned the farmers’ produce.
Macaalay, according to police reports, is a commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Macaalay is at odds with Barangay Salat chair Magalona Ampatuan, who, accordingly, is a commander of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
Ampatuan’s younger brother, Manny, also a commander of the MNLF, was killed when waylaid by the group of Commander Macaalay, reports said. One of Ampatuan’s men identified as Dagul Agmas, was wounded during the attack.
The fighting in Barangay Salat, according to local officials, is caused by land conflict, cattle rustling, and theft of rubber cup lumps and other farm products.
On August 30, Cotabato 2nd district Representative Nancy Catamco, together with Cotabato Governor Lala Mendoza and members of the provincial board, distributed relief items to hundreds of evacuees in Barangay Kisupaan. (Malu Cadelina-Manar/MindaNews)