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Conflict and Violence in Maguindanao Province

Local officials in a remote Maguindanao town are asking the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to help in restoring normalcy in the town’s remote village after armed conflict erupted Friday and Saturday.

Mayor Jacob Ampatuan of Raja Buayan town said the armed skirmishes started when Jerry Macalay, chairman of Barangay Tabungao and his heavily-armed followers, raided the territory of MILF Commander Adzmi Tagadaya.

Ampatuan said Macalay and his men have long been trying to evict the group of Tagadaya, who belong to the MILF’s 106th Base Command, out of Barangay Tabungao.

The MILF, because of the existing ceasefire agreement, has been living peacefully in Tabungao until its village chair wanted them out of the village.

According to Ampatuan, conflict only waned after Commander Abdullah Adan, the top most leader of the MILF in Raja Buayan, ordered Commander Adzmi to reposition its troops to pave the way for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

“Both sides suffered casualties, few were killed,” Ampatuan said.

Army Colonel Mayoraldo Dela Cruz, commander an Army mechanized brigade, said soldiers backed by armed personnel carriers have been sent to the conflict zone “to act as peacekeepers.”

But tension rose anew on Saturday dawn when followers of Commander Jerry Macalay from nearby villages arrived to reinforce his forces.

They looted houses and took away farm animals left by fleeing civilians who were supporters of the MILF.

Maj. Gen. Rey Ardo, 6th Infantry Division commander, has ordered the Mechanized Brigade to work with the local officials and the international peace monitors to prevent similar incidents in the future.

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