Midsayap land survey hoped to end bloody dispute

Jim Sampulna, director of the Southwestern Mindanao (Region 12) office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said the survey done early this month in the contested lands was "geared towards effecting stability in the area".

The area in and around Barangay Rangaban was originally surveyed in 1967 under Public Land Survey (PLS) No. 704. This was the area where alleged bloody clashes happened between government forces and Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas and which spilled over to Barangay Mudseng in January.

The bloody skirmishes also strained the peace negotiations between the government and the MILF.

The government's Inter-Agency Task Force led the ceremonial laying of monument in Barangay Rangaban, bankrolled by the national government.in Midsayap, North Cotabato, officials said.

The task force was created by the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Sec. Jesus Dureza, through memorandum order issued late February to resolve the land disputes in Midsayap. It was expanded to include the whole province of North Cotabato by virtue of Executive Order No. 174 issued by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on March 30,

"We are now planting the seed of peace in this part of the country with high hopes that it will bear fruit soon. We also hope that our experience will serve as model for the rest of war-torn areas in the Philippines,"  Sampulna said.

Malaysian Major General Dato Ismail Bin Ahmad Khan, mission head of the International Monitoring Team, was around to witness the event.

"We have taken the initial steps to end the conflict here. I pray for lasting peace in
Mindanao," the foreign military official said.