Political rivalry seen behind the endless armed conflict in Pagalungan

Political rivalry is seen behind the decade-old armed conflict in Pagalungan, not a ‘rido’ or family feud as reported by local police of Pagalungan, Maguindanao. The protagonists engaged anew in armed clash last December 15, 2017 in said town.

At around 4:30am on said date, some 140 fully armed men attacked Barangay Inug-ug, Pagalungan, the stronghold of ABC President Mokamad Andoy.

The attackers used high powered/sophisticated automatic rifles, such as; M60 Machinegun, 60mm mortal, 50 Caliber Barrette Sniper, and M2O3 Grenade Launchers to the position of Andoy’s 13 armed men in an abandoned military bunker, reliable sources said.  

The skirmishes lasted for almost 10 hours resulting to the displacement of more than 700 families in three (3) affected Barangays of Inug-ug, Kudal and Bagoinged. The intense firefight subsided at around 4:00 in the afternoon when the IMT, CCCH members arrived, and pacified the leaders of the two (2) armed groups. 

The attackers suffered one (1) casualty with five wounded. No reported casualty on the other side, report said. 

The conflict between two distant relatives are utilizing their respective relatives in the two Moro Fronts without the sanction of the organizations. It seems the LGU’s, and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are hapless, and hopeless on the endless political animosity amidst thousands of civilian victims who are forced to evacuate to safer places.

The conflict in Pagalungan needs immediate solution, and the armed forces, provincial, and regional officials, and the executive department should enter into the scene, otherwise it may prolong the sufferings, and agony of the civilian populace.

A local group of peace workers is calling the attention of President Rodrigo Duterte to cause the investigation of alleged direct involvement of some LGU’s in the armed conflict where public funds are diverted in sustaining the armed groups to sow terror in broad daylight to pursue their interest. 

The Municipality of Pagalungan is one of the oldest towns in Maguindanao. But if compared to the adjacent municipalities in North Cotabato, the municipality is obviously left behind for almost 50 years.  

For its part, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have already dispatched members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) who are encamped in the boundaries of two warring parties as a buffer zone.

The conflict started sometime in 2008 during the reign of the late mayor Norodin Matalam, son of the late Grand Oldman of Maguindanao. He then declared and promised in public that ABC President Andoy would be his running mate in coming election.  But it was not fulfilled, and the political division thus emerged, and aggravated when the late mayor Matalam nominated another person.

The decision so embarrassed Andoy, and due to his disappointment, he filed his candidacy for the position of municipal mayor opposing the late mayor Matalam in year 2013.  

The MILF leadership exerted all efforts to resolve the armed conflict but lasting solution to the rivalry is too elusive to realize.