Aide denies losing bet ordered burning of houses in Montawal

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/20 May) – The personal secretary of a defeated mayoral candidate in Montawal town in Maguindanao has vehemently denied their involvement in the burning of several houses in a barangay which took place on Sunday.

Abdul Karim said his employer, Datu Arkhan Matalam, son of a powerful clan in Maguindanao has no private army to carry out such thing.

Ustadz Akmad Kadtig, a former councilor of Barangay Bulod in Montawal, said armed men burned houses in three sitios around 8:00 a.m. Sunday.

Lt. Jimson Dugenio, commander of the Charlie Company of the 7th Infantry Battalion, hinted the incident might be politically motivated.

But Karim said Matalam readily accepted having lost to incumbent Mayor Datu Ohto Montawal as the “people’s decision” and told his supporters not to be upset about it.

“Datu Arkhan told us that the elections are like games.  Sometimes you lose, sometimes you win,” he said.

Besides, he added, Montawal is a relative of Matalam’s.

Karim alleged their informants in the area told him it was Barangay Chairman Kakem Urao himself who led the armed men that first set the houses on fire.

“The owners of those burned houses just retaliated and also set on fire the house owned by Urao and those of his men,” he said.

Karim further alleged that Urao is the brigade commander of a “lost command” of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) operating in Montawal and Pagalungan towns in Maguindanao.

Urao allegedly prevented Matalam’s supporters in Bulod from casting their votes.

“Urao, who was fully armed at that time, was guarding the precinct. Our men were prevented from entering the polling place. And because they have firearms, our supporters decided to leave the place and went home on that day,” said Karim. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)