AFTER more than 100 fatalities from both sides, two prominent Muslim clans warring for five decades in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao have reconciled, surrendering 24 high-powered firearms to the Philippine military, officials said on Thursday.
The Dipatuan and Balindong clans officially agreed to end their “rido” by forging a peace pact early this week, said Mamintal Adiong Jr the vice governor of Lanao del Sur province. Rido means clan war usually triggered by land conflict, political disputes and disrespect of one’s honour or pride.
Adiong said the Lanao del Sur provincial government facilitated the settlement of the clan war along with the Philippine Army’s Joint Task Group (JTG) Haribon, provincial police, and officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Representing the opposing sides were Vice Mayor Jafar Dipatuan of Bacolod-Kalawi township and Mayor Al Fatah Pacalna Balindong of Tugaya township.
The ceremony and traditional proceeding between the families of the warring clans was held at the headquarters of JTG Haribon in Camp Ranao in Marawi City. Clan warfare and conflicts between militant groups has long been a destabilising factor in the southern Philippines.
Last May, Islamic State-inspired militants belonging to the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups laid siege on Marawi triggering a five-month battle that displaced more than 350,000 civilians and left 1,000 combatants dead, mostly Islamic militants.
The clans surrendered an array of high powered weapons including six M14 rifles, seven M16 rifles, and seven grenade launchers according to Philippines Army Colonel Generoso Ponio.
“We would not tolerate any incidents of rido and we will continue to support all activities that will put an end to family feuds within our area of operations,” Major General Roseller Murillo, overall commander of the Joint Task Force Zampelan said.
“In the past days, we have conducted aggressive actions in stopping warring groups that have disturbed peaceful communities in Lanao del Sur, and we will continue to do just that because we will not allow any group to go on disturbing our peaceful communities when they want to,” he added
ARMM Vice Governor Haroun Alrashid Lucman, Jr. witnessed the reconciliation ceremony along with other ARMM and police officials from Lanao del Sur.
Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez Jr, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), commended the local government, military and police officials for working to reconcile the two warring clans in the area.
“Part of the over-all campaign of WestMinCom is to sustain all efforts to resolve all vertical and horizontal conflicts within the joint area of operations,” said Galvez, who supervised the troops during the war in Marawi last year.
Late last year, government troops recovered 132 high-powered firearms in Lanao del Sur province from warring clans and other private armed groups as a result of lengthy dialogues and in line with the implementation of martial law in Mindanao, Galvez said.
“We will continue to maintain an active stance on this particular issue and we will not stop until we reach a closure on all existing ridos, may it be peacefully or aggressively,” he said.