Land feud sparks clash in Pikit

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/05 December) – A land dispute has led to an armed clash between members of the Civilian Volunteers Organization and suspected Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in a barangay in Pikit, North Cotabato, a police official said.

Senior Insp. Elias Dandan, chief of Pikit police, said the fighting in Barangay Macabual which erupted around 5:30 p.m. Saturday stemmed from the claims of the families of both barangay chairman Jalandoni Matalam Akas and Tungko Sawali Asim, an alleged MILF commander, that they are the rightful owners of a land in the area.

Lt. Col. Domingo Gubuay, commander of the 7th Infantry Battalion, said Akas led the CVOs in the encounter against Asim’s group.

Gubuay said the clash occurred while the CVOs were conducting a patrol in Macabual in response to warnings of possible attacks in some barangays of Pikit and Aleosan town.

Hundreds of villagers evacuated to the adjacent barangays of Calawag, Gli-Gli, and Balong, all in Pikit.

The fighting on Saturday came two days after CVOs and MILF rebels clashed along the boundary of Barangay Dungguan in Aleosan and Barangay Langayen in Pikit. Two CVOs were killed and some 500 residents evacuated as a result of the encounter.

Gubuay said additional troops have been sent to the area.

Meanwhile, the MILF has agreed to government’s proposal to let the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) stay up to February 28, 2010. But the MILF, in a news item posted in today, said that the IMT’s continued stay should not be interpreted as an extension “but rather a way to reckon the one-year mandate given to
it, in view of the fact that it only arrived in Mindanao on February 28, 2009 and, therefore, has to end on February 28, 2011.”

“Unlike previous teams, IMT-5’s mandate was signed on December 9, 2009, but they only arrived in Mindanao particularly at their headquarters in Cotabato City on February 28, 2010; so this is a unique case, where no precedent in the past will be cited to rule on
it. If we recall, the IMT-1 was from October 10, 2004 to September 10, 2005; IMT-2 from September 11, 2005 to September 8, 2006; IMT-3 from September 9, 2006 to September 3, 2007;  IMT-4 from September 4, 2007 to 30 November 2008, inclusive of the extension agreed by the Parties in an executive meeting,” added.   (Malu Cadelina