Lawless group torches 3 houses in Maguindanao-A A +A
Saturday, January 5, 2013
KIDAPAWAN CITY -- Fear has gripped a village in Datu Montawal, Maguindanao as armed lawless groups torched three shanties, all made of light materials, located just 20 meters away from a police outpost.
Datu Abdullah Pandita, one of the residents in Datu Montawal, said they were roused from sleep Thursday night when they saw villagers run for safety as their shanties were being razed to the ground.
Though no one was hurt during the burning incident, it sent the residents into panic, Pandita said.
The incident came a month after a lull in the armed fighting between warring political clans in Datu Montawal.
Two clans are at odds in the town, according to Pandita. One group is connected to the family of Datu Montawal municipal mayor Datu Uttoh Montawal and the other is connected to the family of Datu Montawal vice-mayor Mohalidin Bao.
Both are running for the mayoral post in Datu Montawal.
Pandita, however, believed the armed clashes in his town are ‘beyond politics.’
“The fighting is beyond politics. The families whose members were killed by Datu Andy Montawal, younger brother of Montawal Mayor Datu Uttoh Montawal, want to avenge their deaths. They are seeking justice,” Pandita said.
Datu Andy, former president of the Association of Barangay Chairmen in Datu Montawal, is facing several cases, including rape and murder.
But Pandita was surprised that despite the presence of Datu Andy in the area, “none among the policemen in our town would want to arrest the suspect.”
“Datu Andy, despite the many warrants for his arrest, is seen roaming around the village. In fact, he is leading a group to harass residents of Poblacion and other villages nearby,” Pandita added.
Mayor Montawal earlier denied coddling his younger brother in his residence. He also denied accusations it was his brother's group that led the attack in Poblacion.
The sporadic fighting that started in Datu Montawal since October last year has already displaced thousands of villagers, reports said. (PNA)