AN AMICABLE settlement was forged by the relatives of the victims and that of the suspects in last month’s ambush in Basilan province, a police official said Tuesday.

Senior Superintendent Antonio Mendoza, Basilan police director, said the amicable settlement was made possible through the intercession of Basilan Governor Jum Akbar.

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Mendoza said the signing of the peace accord between the protagonists was held around 1 p.m. Monday at the Provincial Board session hall at the capitol building in downtown Isabela City, the province capital.

The amicable settlement was reached when Akbar instructed Provincial Board member Yusoph Alano to gather family members of both the victims and the suspects in the ambush that took place last June 23, Mendoza said.

The ambush took place around 2 p.m. of last June 23 in Sitio Stardust, Tubigan village, Maluso town.

Mendoza said the fatalities were identified as Salsijan Sali, 22, Weng Circulado, 35, Solis Aspalun, 17 and a certain Ibang, 35, who died on the spot.

Wounded were Hamid Hasilun, 45 and Nurjid Muhajilun, 10, who were admitted at the Basilan Community Hospital.

Investigation disclosed the victims were aboard a passenger jeepney driven by Circulado coming from Isabela City bound for Cabcaban village in Sumisip, when ambushed by at least 30 gunmen.

Mendoza said the suspects in the ambush turn out to be the relatives of the three people who were beheaded last June 11 by Abu Sayyaf bandits led by Puruji Indama in the village of Abong-Abong, Maluso town.

He disclosed the motive of the June 23 ambush was revenge citing the victims were mistaken to be relatives of Indama and some of his followers.

In the amicable settlement, Mendoza said the suspects in the ambush agreed to pay a total of P298,000 “blood money” to the victims plus reimbursement of hospital expenses.

He said the amicable settlement is a welcome development citing it put an end to armed dispute between the protagonists.

The police and military forces are continuously hunting down the group of Indama to bring them before the bar of justice for the crime they have committed, Mendoza said.

Aside from Akbar and Mendoza, the amicable settlement was witnessed 1st Marine Brigade chief Brigadier General Eugenio Clemen, the mayors of Sumisip and Maluso towns, the chairmen of the village of Calang Canas, Tubigan, Abong-Abong and Libug of Maluso municipality and other police, military and government officials. (Bong Garcia)