Residents flee as rival clans clash anew in Maguindanao-A A +A
Saturday, January 19, 2013
KIDAPAWAN CITY -- Residents in three villages in Datu Montawal town in Maguindanao province fled to safer areas after rival clans clashed anew in Barangay Poblacion, at around 2 a.m. Friday, a former barangay official said.
Abdul Pandita of Poblacion, Datu Montawal said the displaced families, mostly from villages in Tunggol, Dungguan, and Talapas have sought temporary shelter at Dungguan Elementary School and Ligawasan Elementary School, both in Datu Montawal and situated along the Datu Montawal-Pikit highway.
Pandita said the fighting started when the group of a certain Commander Bigkog of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) attacked the position of the private Army of Datu Andy Montawal, brother of Datu Montawal Mayor Datu Uttoh Montawal.
Datu Andy is with a certain Medtalicop Montawal, also a relative, Pandita said.
Datu Andy, records from the police said, is wanted for murder and rape charges filed against him since 2008.
Pandita said the deployment of Datu Andy's own army in some areas outside the Poblacion had angered Commander Bigkog.
He explained he happened to know Bigkog's plan because he was once part of the group.
“Commander Bigkog was just defending his own people, many of them harassed by Datu Andy and his men,” he told media here.
Mayor Uttoh, when interviewed, was irked when Bigkog's group has again connected him to the latest atrocity in his town.
"I don't know why these people would always blame me for Datu Andy's activities, if there were such reports. I don't know where my brother is hiding," Mayor Uttoh said.
According to the mayor, Commander Bigkog, also known in the community as "Transceiver," has been wanted for murder since 2012.
Uttoh also accused Bigkog of siding with his political foe, Datu Montawal vice-mayor Muhalidin Bao.
Incidentally, Datu Uttoh and Bao are step brothers.
Bao, whose term as vice-mayor ends this year, is running as a mayoral candidate in Datu Montawal town against re-electionist mayor Datu Uttoh.
Both soldiers from the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion and police from Datu Montawal town were deployed in war-torn villages to ensure the security of the evacuees, reports said.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 19, 2013.