PIGCALAGAN, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao (MindaNews/07 September) – Two clans from Buldon and Barira towns in Maguindanao vowed to end their 40-year old “rido” or feud on Sunday.
The warring clans live a few meters apart from each other, one in the Buldon side of Barangay Minabay and the other in the Barira side of the same barangay.
But it was only on Sunday that the Malambut-Kudanding-Alo clan saw the Madid-Cawi-Macauyag eye to eye as they swore before the Koran to end the conflict. They hugged each other and asked for forgiveness after signing a peace covenant.
Members of both clans, local leaders, military and police officials and the media witnessed the closure of the conflict.
The rido has claimed a total of 16 lives from both sides and injured others.
One of those who was injured was 66-year old Amerodin Malambut. He came to the negotiation area wearing dark glasses and guided by a relative because he is now blind.
Amerodin’s eyes were hit in a firefight in 1977 in Minabay with their rival clan where two of his relatives were killed.
He narrated how the conflict started when as a young commander of the Moro National Liberation Front he led an attack after they were harassed by armed men believed to be from the defunct constabulary.
He said they killed members of the other clan in a case of “mistaken identity”.
“So that was the start. Though we asked forgiveness and offered blood money, it didn’t stop them from avenging their relatives and so the vicious cycle followed,” Amerodin recounted.
He said the rido that followed restricted their movements and made them lose several opportunities.
“But now we are thankful there are people who took steps to end the conflict,” Amerodin said in Iranun.
For Ebrahim Cawi, “enough is enough”. He said they were just forced to avenge the death of his relatives.
He said rido should not be passed to the next generation, as it is a sad picture of fighting between clans who are related by blood as Iranuns.
Roots of rido
Buldon Mayor Abolais Manalao blamed the rampant proliferation firearms in Iranun communities for fueling cases of rido which people believe is the way to get justice whenever they feel oppressed or if they feel that their maratabat (pride) is being insulted.
“I must admit guns in Iranun towns are almost found in every household. It’s part of their way of living, they acquired it even the time of Martial law where they are bound to defend themselves,” Manalao said.
“No one wins in clan wars. All of the parties including us in local government and the welfare of the people are casualties here, so must wake up and end this senseless vicious cycle,” he stressed in his speech.
603rd Brigade’s intervention
Manalao thanked the 603rd Infantry Brigade and USAID Enhancing Governance Accountability and Engagement (ENGAGE) for helping them with strategies to end the conflict between clans. He admitted that ridos have hindered development in his town.
603rd Brigade Commander Arnel Dela Vega said the settlement they brokered on this day could motivate others involved in clan feuds to put a closure to their rido.
“Your Rido is only a small conflict compared to the bigger conflict of the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front. But they opened their hearts and minds to settle the differences on the table, so why need to shed blood?” Dela Vega said.
Under dela Vega the brigade has helped settle 27 ridos as of September 5.
Joint Task Force Iranun
Crafted from the Public Safety and Order Plan during last years’ security meeting, the towns of Parang, Barira, Matanog and Buldon created the Joint Task Force-Iranun (JTF-Iranun) to address the peace and order matters especially clan feuds and law enforcement.
The group obtained technical support from USAID ENGAGE in the area of improving governance in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.
The idea is to enable four towns to come up with mechanisms on peace building in partnership with the military, police, MILF, council of elders, and civil society groups.
Under the JTF-Iranun, the towns take turns hosting quarterly meetings with the 603rd Brigade.
The meetings enable the mayors to coordinate easily the handling of ridos that happen across municipal borders and strengthen their relationships with security forces, said Clarissa Echavez-Rendon, the area coordinator of USAID ENGAGE.
Multimillion-dollar investments in banana, pineapple, coconut and coffee are coming in now that relative peace has been attained, Matanog Mayor Mohammad Guro said.
He said the investors were drawn to these towns for their fertile lands which are suitable for high value crops.
“In fact we really don’t need to wait long for the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law) to make it a Bangsamoro Region. We just need to work it out with a peaceful community where internal conflicts are settled and could not hamper economic activities,” he said.
Iranuns inhabit the areas surrounding the MILF’S former Camp Abubakar, now called Camp Iranun in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao Del Sur and even parts of North Cotabato. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)