Local officials here have asked Muslims and Maguindanaons to help protect local Christians from violence inflicted by the lawless Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Abdullah Sangki town Mayor Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu has also condemned the Christmas Day offensives by the BIFF that left eight civilian farmers of Barangays Kauran and Palian, all farming villages inhabited by Christian settlers.
“It was unjust and inhuman,” Mangudadatu said of the Dec. 24 dawn attacks perpetrated by the BIFF.
“And so we condemn the group that perpetrated this. Our municipality, Datu Abdullah Sangki, is one of the most peaceful towns in Maguindanao, where the Christians and the Muslims live peacefully together,” the lady mayor said in a statement.
She described the attackers as “anti-peace.” Two of the eight fatalities in the Christmas Day rampage were residents of Barangay Kakal, Datu Abdullah Sangki taown.
Like village officials, Mangudadatu stressed that the slain farmers were not armed and were never a member of para military troops as claimed by BIFF spokesperson Abuy Misri Mama.
Mangudadatu expressed sympathy with the widows of slain farmers after distributing relief items and financial aid to them.
Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, 6th Infantry Division commander, condemned the BIFF attacks and vowed to pursue them wherever they go to give justice to the slain farmers.
“The 6th ID condemns the treacherous act of the lawless group, BIFF, and will not allow them to continue thriving within
Central Mindanao,” Pangilinan said.
Regional Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on Wednesday also condemned the BIFF offensives. He called on villagers in affected villages to remain alert and never resort to retaliatory attacks.
Hataman told residents the government is doing its best to address security issues in Barangay Kauran and adjacent communities in Ampatuan.
Hataman said the BIFF attacks were “acts of terrorism.” He added no legitimate revolutionary group who is fighting for the Bangsamoro people would harm or kill non-combatants.
Mangudadatu said residents, both Muslims and Christians, should look back to the years when they protect each other against lawlessness since they have been living together. In fact, there were inter-marriages within the two tribal groups.
The beleaguered residents of Barangay Kauran, Ampatuan, Maguindanao also urged the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels to help prevent similar attacks in the future.
Under the GPH and MILF ceasefire agreement, both the government and the MILFF will mutually cooperate in containing lawlessness in areas where the MILF operate, like Maguindanao.
Barangay Kagawad Rommel Rodriguez of Kauran, Ampatuan said the residents expect the GPH and MILF peace panels to interfere in the name of peace.
“Our village is peaceful, Muslims and Christians live together and work together, the problem started when the BIFF started dipping its finger on land claims,” Rodriguez told DXMS-AM Radyo Bida.
Rodriguez stressed there is no land conflict in the area and that Christians legally acquired the lands from Muslim owners.
“We have titles, we have legal documents, there is no land grabbing issue in Barangay Kauran,” Rodriguez told BIFF spokesperson who earlier accused the Christian settlers of land grabbing.
Rodriguez and other local officials were convinced the GPH-MILF ceasefire committee can do something.