Members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
(Photo by Jeoffrey Maitem, INQUIRER MINDANAO
MARAWI CITY — An anti-drug operation conducted by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Lanao del Sur last week sparked a clash and displaced hundreds of residents in the barangays (villages) of Bualan and Debarosan in Balindong, Lanao del Sur, a rebel official said Sunday.
Usama Ali, core chair of the MILF’s Ad Hoc Joint Action Group told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone, the operations started when a relative of the village chair of Debarosan, demanded that the MILF release one of the seven persons it arrested.
He did not name the Debarosan village chair but identified his brother as an Abu Sayyaf member. One of those arrested for alleged involvement in drugs was the sister of the village chair.
When the news went around that one of those arrested was the sister of the Debarosan village chair, they immediately sought the MILF group holding her and demanded her release, the Army said. They suceeded, the Army added.
Upon learning of the intervention, Commander Bravo of the MILF demanded the return of the unidentified sister of the Debarosan village chair but her relatives declined.
On Saturday, the clash started, Usama Ali said.
Local authorities are verifying reports indicating casualties on either side. Two houses and a school building were also torched.
Usama Ali said on Sunday that he had talked with Bravo to resolve the conflict.
He said there had been some agreements made but did not say what happened to the six other arrested persons and who they were.
Lanao del Sur Vice Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. issued an appeal to both sides to stop armed confrontation for the sake of civilians.
Under the administration of President Duterte , the MILF and the government had agreed to wage a joint war against illegal drugs but the MILF’s role was supposed to be limited to advocacy and information gathering only. The rebels were not allowed to conduct anti-drug operations.