Clashes erupt anew in Lanao

A certain Pfc. Bug-os of the 43rd Infantry Battalion based in Munai was evacuated for medication Saturday. The unidentified slain rebel was buried by elements of the 43IB under Lt. Col. Juvymax Uy.

Col. Benito de Leon, chief of the 104th Infantry Brigade, told MindaNews that his soldiers spotted rebels in their camouflage uniforms massing up in Munai.

He said that the rebels are members of the group of MILF commander Abdurahman Macapaar a.k.a. Bravo, whose movements are closely monitored since the standing mandate to capture MILF leaders who led the attack in two municipalities of Lanao del Norte August last year.

“Everybody knows that the hunt for the lawless elements continues,” De Leon said.

The military then pounded rebel positions with artilleries as attack helicopters hovered above Friday and Saturday last week.

Ahmad Macatimbol, head of the Lanao Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (LAHRA), said the area where the MILF reportedly gathered is “very remote,” mostly farmlands and a large part of it still forested, in sitios Alinun, Cabaro and Bacayan.

Abul Alibasa of Kabnar, Inc., a human rights group based in Marawi city, asked de Leon via mobile phone for assistance to release the rebel’s corpse because “it is part of the Islamic culture to bury the dead before the lapse of 24 hours.”

Alibasa said that municipal officers of Munai tried communicating with soldiers on the ground for the release but to no avail.

“If, indeed, they have buried the dead, we still want to get photo clips or video document from them that we can show to the family that, indeed, he was already buried. At least we could assure the dead’s family that he is already buried,” Alibasa said.

Col. Jerry Barrientos, deputy commanding officer of 104IB who is now in barangay Matampay in Munai, told MindaNews that they would be willing to assist human rights groups who would wish to locate the place where the rebel was buried, adding that "the site is located in a remote hinterland and needs six to seven hours of walking from Matampay."

“It’s important that the dead rebel's family could visit his grave to perform some Islamic rites,” said Macatimbol.

He added that it is difficult to know if there are new evacuees due to this conflict because many residents of Munai have not returned to their homes since they fled in August. 

Adona Orquillas, member of the provincial local monitoring team and head of Ranaw Disaster Response and Rehabilitation Center, said they are still organizing the team that would conduct a fact finding mission in the conflict zone. (Violeta M. Gloria / MindaNews)