TF Basilan, Basilan leaders say slain mayor longed for peace

Frencie Carreon
TF Basilan, Basilan leaders say slain mayor longed for peace

CRIME SCENE. A police photo of the area where two mayors from Basilan province and their aides were attacked at Baliwasan Seaside, Zamboanga City, on Monday, December 6.

zamboanga city police office

Brigadier General Domingo Gobway, commander of the Joint Task Force Basilan, says they were going to announcement a rido settlement on December 8. That will no longer happen.

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Joint Task Force Basilan Commander Brigadier General Domingo Gobway said a peace covenant and complete settlement was scheduled for Wednesday, December 8, between feuding Al-Barka town leaders Mayor Darussalam Lajid and Vice Mayor Mujib Jakilan.

But that resolution will no longer happen, and peace will remain ever more elusive.

Instead of peace, it was the lifeless body of Lajid which returned to Al-Barka town in Basilan province via speedboat noon of December 6, Monday.

Lajid was killed in an ambush Monday morning at the seaside of the Baliwasan, a coastal village in Zamboanga City.

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In his report to the Zamboanga Peninsula Police Regional Office (PRO9), Zamboanga City Police Director Colonel Rexmel Reyes said that aside from Lajid, also killed in the attack was Barad Nuruddin, bodyguard-cousin of Mayor Alih Awal Sali of Akbar town also in Basilan.

Sali, himself, survived the attack and was reported in stable condition by his attending physician at a hospital in Zamboanga City.

The police Scene of Crime Operatives (SOCO) said they recovered five spent .45 caliber shells. Two of the four unidentified suspects were spotted by eyewitnesses. One was described a wearing a black t-shirt, the other in blue shirt and denim pants. There were no descriptions on the two others.

Police said that at past 8 am, Monday, the two Basilan mayors arrived at a private port in front of the house of fisherman Zaldy Hamid in Baliwasan Seaside, Zamboanga City. They were with their wives, children, and some civilian escorts.

Police Corporal Alnajar Hussam reported that the two groups disembarked from the speedboat, then were seen walking down the alley towards the main road of Baliwasan. When they reached the mosque, the suspects shot them. 

Baliwasan Barangay Kagawad Michael Gregorio said that the perpetrators could not have left the vicinity as they were seen heading towards the interior of the village where houses were dense, or built close together.

While the motive of the shooting remained unknown as of press time, both mayors were running for reelection for the May 2022 polls.

Basilan Governor Jim Salliman said it still could not be determined that the killing was election-related, and related to the shooting incident on August 3.

Hindi pa natin alam. May mga kalaban kasi ang mga ‘yan. Pero kakaayos  lang ng AFP last month lang.  In fact, may amicable settlement, although may issues na hindi masyadong settled. Pero both agreed na hanapin kung sino and perpetrators sa nangyari [noon],” said Salliman, referring to the August shooting incident.

(We don’t know. These two have enemies. But the military has arranged peace settlements last month. In fact, there was an amicable settlement, although there were still issues to be cleared. But both agreed to look for the perpetrators of the August shooting.)

Last August 3, armed followers of Lajid and Jakilan engaged in a gunfight where two persons were killed. The fatalities were Lajid’s nephew, Amman Lajid, and Topy Kinista, Jakilan’s relative and supporter.

Gobway pushed the two parties into a dialogue and he confirmed the amicable settlement last November 20.

Totoo na nagkaroon ng rido settlement on November 20 dito sa Brigade Headquarters between Mayor [Lajid] and Vice Mayor [Jakilan], however, hindi nakasama ang mga bata nila dahil on the night before sa settlement  ay pinatay ‘yung bodyguard ni Vice-Mayor mismo sa bahay niya sa Lamitan City,” the TF Basilan commander said. The aide who was killed in Lamitan was identified as Abusarin Jaafar Munkarun.

(It’s true that there was a rido settlement reached on November 20 between the mayor and the vice mayor here at the brigade headquarters. However, their aides were not included because on the night before the settlement talks a bodyguard of the vice mayor was killed in this own house in Lamitan City.)

Salliman however said that while he helped in the resolution, there were still unresolved issues unknown to the intervening body, as the warring leaders were cousins.  The Basilan governor said that Lajid did not favor armed conflict, which was why he engaged in peace and development in his first two terms in public service.  “In fact, his children are professionals,” he said. His son is the town’s firs medical doctor from Al-Barka.

Basilan Representative and Deputy House Speaker Mujiv Hataman expressed his grief in his social media account. In a phone interview Hataman described late mayor as a good leader who had served his people and province well, having been participative in the security efforts of Al-Barka, from the time of the initiatives of the former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Hataman recalled when he was ARMM Governor, Lajid focused on the implementation of infrastructure projects in his municipality. Although serving his last term, Lajid belonged to another political party, they had been together in motorcycling and other sports activities. –

Frencie Carreon is a Mindanao-based Journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.