Maguin­danao seeks MILF help for Te­du­ray tribes


SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguin­danao: Gov. Es­mael Man­gu­da­datu urged the Moro Is­lamic Lib­er­a­tion Front ( MILF) to help the mil­i­tary pro­tect the non- Mus­lim Te­du­ray tribe in the prov­ince from the atroc­i­ties of the out­lawed Bangsamoro Is­lamic Free­dom Fight­ers ( BIFF).

Man­gu­da­datu, who is also chair­man of the Maguin­danao Pro­vin­cial Peace and Or­der Coun­cil (PPOC), con­vened the coun­cil in Bu­luan town and dis­cussed the plight of thou­sands of in­dige­nous Te­du­ray dis­lodged from Mount Firis by a se­ries of deadly at­tacks BIFF gun­men have been stag­ing in the past three weeks.

Mount Firis, sur­rounded by Maguin­danao’s Datu Hofer, Datu Un­say and Datu Saudi towns, is a cen­turies- old sa­cred tribal do­main of the eth­nic Te­du­ray. It is where the BIFF wants to es­tab­lish a camp on the pre­text of pre­vent­ing en­croach­ment of Chris­tian set­tlers from nearby prov­inces.

“The trou­ble there is not about land own­er­ship. There are no Chris­tian out­siders grab­bing land there as al­leged. All the peo­ple af­fected by the trou­ble are eth­nic Te­du­rays, no one else,” Man­gu­da­datu said.

He said the joint cease­fire com­mit­tee of the gov­ern­ment and the MILF can co­op­er­ate in help­ing se­cure the Te­du­ray around the ar­eas of Mt. Firis based on the Agree­ment on Gen­eral Ces­sa­tion of Hos­til­i­ties that both sides signed in July 1997.

The se­cu­rity agree­ment en­joins both par­ties to co­op­er­ate in ad­dress­ing se­cu­rity prob­lems in con­flict- af­fected ar­eas in the south­ern prov­inces.

“The on­go­ing peace process be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the MILF is an in­clu­sive kind of peace ini­tia­tive, one that will ben­e­fit Min­danao’s Mus­lim, Chris­tian and Lu­mad com­mu­ni­ties. There is rea­son for both sides to work to­gether in pro­tect­ing these Te­du­ray com­mu­ni­ties from the BIFF,” Man­gu­da­datu said.

The BIFF, which uses the black Is­lamic State flag as revo­lu­tion­ary ban­ner, does not sup­port the peace process be­tween the gov- ern­ment and the MILF which is in­tended to put a ne­go­ti­ated peace­ful agree­ment to the Moro is­sue hound­ing South­ern Philip­pines since the late 1960s.

The 1997 in­terim truce be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the MILF also does not cover the BIFF which es­pouses public an­i­mos­ity to gov­ern­ment and per­se­cu­tion of non-Mus­lims.

Man­gu­da­datu re­called that last year, the mil­i­tary and the MILF were suc­cess­ful in driv­ing away from the prov­ince Abu To­raife, the leader of a BIFF fac­tion, through bi­lat­eral tac­ti­cal ef­forts that can also be ap­plied for the pro­tec­tion of eth­nic Te­du­ray.

The two other BIFF fac­tions in­sti­gat­ing hos­til­i­ties around Mount Firis – the Bon­gos and Kar­i­alan groups – lost more than a dozen mem­bers in a se­ries of en­coun­ters with pur­su­ing sol­diers be­tween De­cem­ber 25 to Jan­uary 6.

barangay (vil­lage) lead­ers said two of the BIFF fa­tal­i­ties were bomb mak­ers Salah and Maguie, both trained by Mar­wan, in the fab­ri­ca­tion and han­dling of im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vices (IEDs).

Two sol­diers and a po­lice­man were killed in a se­ries of road­side bomb­ings near Mount Firis while Army units and BIFF forces were locked in a three- week gun­fight in up­land ar­eas around the in­dige­nous peo­ple’s en­clave.

Man­gu­da­datu said the eth­nic Te­du­rays are most vul­ner­a­ble to road­side bombs and booby traps the BIFF gun­men laid along farm trails criss­cross­ing Mount Firis.

He said he will meet with Al- Man­sour Gam­bar, MILF’s Bangsamoro Is­lamic Armed Forces chief of staff, to dis­cuss with him pos­si­ble so­lu­tions to the se­cu­rity prob­lems hound­ing the na­tive Te­du­rays.

Mean­while, Lt. Col. Gerry Be­sana, a mem­ber of the Army- led anti- ter­ror Joint Task Force Cen­tral, said more ex­plo­sive ord­nance de­vice ex­perts will be de­ployed at Mount Firis to col­lect IEDs that BIFF bomb mak­ers left.

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