MILF sends emissaries to warring commanders in Tulunan

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/28 November) — Emissaries from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front were dispatched to Tulunan town in North Cotabato to settle the land dispute between one of its commanders and a former commander in the area, a MILF official said.

MILF spokesperson Von Al-Haq said their central committee has sent agents to convince Commander Jun Panangulon and a former rebel commander identified as Sukarno to reposition their forces away from the contested land so that hundreds of evacuees may safely go back home.

Al-Haq said the central leadership is bent on resolving the conflict and would impose measures that can restrain both groups from engaging in another firefight.

Senior Insp. Ramel Hojilla, chief of Tulunan police, said the fighting started in November 22 when the group of Panangulon reportedly fired a rocket-propelled grenade and hit a government-owned backhoe being rented by RNF Industries Inc., at Barangay Lower Dungos in Tulunan.

Sukarno, a former rebel commander under the MILF’s 108th base command, works as security officer at the banana plantation of the RNF Industries, Hojilla said.

On Saturday, Panangulon’s group allegedly launched another attack on the plantation killing on the spot one of Sukarno’s men identified as Benjie Guiamalel, and wounding two others, the police official said.

Close to 200 families from Purok-12, Barangay Lower Dungos in Tulunan and parts of Barangay Tamped in General SK Pendatun, Maguindanao left their homes for fear of being caught in the crossfire.

Authorities in the region, including the Army and the Cotabato Provincial Police Office, have called on the MILF ceasefire committee to act on the problem at once before the situation may get worse.

On Friday, Cotabato Governor Lala Mendoza called for an emergency meeting at the capitol to discuss the Tulunan incident. Fighting, however, erupted the next day.

If the MILF acts on the conflict without delay, according to the local police, evacuees would be able to return safely to their villages.

Hojilla has also called on the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to resolve the land conflict by identifying the real owners of the contested land.

“The conflict has been going on for years.   This is the time the DAR officials must enter into the picture so to put an end to the armed fighting in the area.  By doing that, we protect the people who are doing business in this part of the province,” said Hojilla.

The RNF Industries, owned by Dr. Ramon Floresta, a businessman from Kidapawan City, has started his banana plantation in Tulunan in 2010.

He is also engaged in rubber plantation and other high-yielding crops in North Cotabato.

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2011/11/29/milf-sends-emissaries-to-warring-commanders-in-tulunan/


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