Attack triggers evacuation in Pres. Roxas

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/27 August) – Thirty-seven families from a predominantly Moro village in President Roxas town in North Cotabato fled to safer grounds when some 50 suspected members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) attacked their area, around 5 a.m. on Wednesday.

Inset Map Courtesy of Wikipedia.Police reports said the attackers were led by MILF Commanders Daud Macaalay, Datumanong Mandigan, and Basit Kudalis Inalang.

The attack on Barangay Salat, said to be an offshoot of a rido or clan war, led to the killing of Manny Ampatuan, younger brother of Barangay Chair Datu Magalona Ampatuan.

The slain Ampatuan was a commander of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) operating in the towns of President Roxas, Kabacan, and Matalam, all in North Cotabato.

Wounded were Dagul Agmas, one of Ampatuan’s men, and a still unidentified villager.

Cotabato Governor Lala Talinio-Mendoza said the fighting was between Macaalay, a former councilor of Sakat, and Datu Magalona and his men who belong to the MNLF.

Both belong to the same clan, Mendoza said, adding the rido stemmed from land conflict, cattle rustling, and theft of rubber cup lumps and other farm products.

The local police said the feud started a few months before the May 2010 elections.

Last month, unidentified armed men burned at least 30 houses. Another fire incident happened early this month.

Dialogues between the families involved were already held at the municipal hall of President Roxas since last month yet the fighting continued, according to Mendoza.

The Army in North Cotabato has already asked the International Monitoring Team (IMT) to help pacify Moro families who are engaged in rido.

On Thursday, social welfare staff and local officials of President Roxas led by Vice Mayor Noel Mallorca distributed relief goods to the evacuees who were temporarily housed at the multi-purpose building of Barangay Kisupaan.

The evacuation site is located a kilometer away from the patrol base of the 38th Infantry Battalion.

Town police chief Senior Insp. Benjamin Rioflorido, PO3 Tonggal Salik and PO3 Dwight Razon yesterday went to Salat to investigate the attack. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)