Army battalion plays key role in ending 5 clan wars in Mindanao

Carmela Fonbuena
It's important to resolve clan wars because these have made areas in Mindanao a magnet for other armed groups, says the battalion commander

RESOLUTION. Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu witnesses the Kanduli ceremony at the 33rd Infantry Battalion headquarters on November 8, 2018, to celebrate the resolution of clan feud between the Pandapatan and Ayup families of Lumabao village. Photo courtesy of the Army 33rd IB

MANILA, Philippines – The 33rd Infantry Battalion (IB) was instrumental in ending a long-running dispute between the Mamadsali and Ayup families in Maguindanao, the 5th violent clan war the Army unit successfully negotiated this year. 

In a kanduli ceremony at the 33rd IB headquarters on November 8, family patriarchs Mamadsali Pandapatan, 50, and Jorge Ayup, 55, agreed to make peace. The ceremony was witnessed by Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu and 6th Infantry Division Assistant Commander Antonio Sugarol. 

“This is our 5th successful settlement of bloody clan wars in the current year. It demonstrates our ability to address the root causes of the problem, and in working together towards finding the most suitable solution,” said battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc. 

It ended negotiations that started in 2013, which were facilitated by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The Muslim rebel group talking peace with the government continued to work closely with the battalion to resolve the conflict. 

The clan feud was sparked by disagreements over ownership of a 10-hectare rice farm in Lumabao village in the town of General SK Pendatun. Pandapatan’s grandparents originally owned the lot but Ayup showed certificates that apparently distributed it to 4 descendants, prompting a dispute over the paperwork. 

“After hours of intense discussion with the Army and MILF mediators, all parties agreed to honor the legal documents and the earlier agreement on the ownership of land. Tearful reunion among relatives ensued after the culmination of the conflict settlement,” said Cabunoc. 

Cabunoc said Ayup’s association with the MILF has turned the village into a battleground with combatants of the MILF breakaway group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). The BIFF is now the target of intense military operations as the government fights spoilers of the peace process with MILF.

Cabunoc said up to 32 BIFF members surrendered in relation to the resolution of the 5 clan wars. 

The 33rd IB was also instrumental in resolving feuds of Abdul with Samama and Saotin clans, Sinomagan with Mohammad clan, and Delba with Saligan clan. – Rappler.com