Maguindanao

MILF commander blames Maguindanao village violence on political feud

Rommel Rebollido
MILF commander blames Maguindanao village violence on political feud
There is no official word from either the police or the military about the exact number of deaths, but the two warring groups claim that at least nine people were killed on June 12 alone

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Violence blamed on a continuing rivalry between two partisan groups has turned a village in Maguindanao province into a virtual ghost town.

The feud has resulted in weeks of bloody skirmishes, forcing villagers to flee Midconding in the town of General Salipada K. Pendatun town.

There was no official word from either the police or the military about the exact number of deaths, but the two warring groups claimed that at least nine people were killed on Sunday alone, June 12.

In a statement, the town’s police chief, Lieutenant Damiano Albacite Jr., said there were ongoing negotiations with the warring groups and officials from the Philippine Army, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and the provincial government.

Nurudin Muslimen, the commander of the 15th Brigade under the 108th Base Command of the MILF, alleged that the violence sprang out of a political rivalry between General Salipada K. Pendatun Mayor Bimbo Pendatun Ali and his May 9 elections challenger, Midconding chairman Datumama Bantuan Abdul. 

Ali had foiled Abdul’s attempt to snatch the mayoral post from him.

Muslimen said residents of Midconding supported Abdul’s mayoral bid, which allegedly infuriated Mayor Ali.

“Oo, dahil sa eleksyon, at doon nagsimula ang pananakot ng mga tao ni Mayor Bimbo sa amin,” Muslimen told local broadcaster Brigada News FM in Cotabato on Monday, June 13.

(It’s because of the elections, and that started the intimidation of villagers by Mayor Bimbo’s people.)

Ali strongly denied that the skirmishes in Midconding had anything to do with the recently-concluded elections.

It was a rido (clan feud) that supposedly started in 2017 when Muslimen’s group was blamed for the killing of two members of a family, according to Ali.

“Away pamilya ang ugat ng naturang bakbakan at hindi politika (It’s a fight between two families, and the skirmishes were not due to politics),” Ali said.

The other group is led by Sanday Sautin, said to be a staunch supporter of Mayor Ali. 

Muslimin claimed that his group merely fought back when Sautin’s group staged an attack in the village on Sunday night.

He said his group repulsed the attack, killed nine of the raiders, and wounded several others.

Sautin called Muslimen’s narrative an exaggeration – he said his group suffered only two deaths, and killed seven of Muslimen’s followers.

Barangay chairman Abdul said Mayor Ali went to Midconding, and looked for him days after the May elections. 

It was followed by an attack by some 200 men in the village later that evening, Abdul alleged.

Abdul called on officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) for help, urging them to mediate and put an end to the conflict.

Abdul said he already conceded to Ali, and was willing to sit down with him “so that residents of Midcondiing can sleep peacefully at night in their homes.” – Rappler.com