SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: As the Roman Catholic faithful in the seaside town of Malabang, Lanao del Sur observed Good Friday last week, two big clans among the Maranao tribe involved in bloody rido or clan war for the past 20 years finally ended their dispute.
Members of the Balindong and Montaner clans vowed before the Holy Qur’an after the Army initiated a rido settlement to end their animosity that had cost many lives on both sides.
Leaders of the two prominent political clans also promised to live again in peaceful co-existence and cooperate in restoring normalcy in the barangay (villages) where their followers had figured in bloody gunfights that displaced thousands of villagers.
The rido, meaning vendetta or family feud in the Maranao dialect, between the two clans was sparked by bitter political differences and aggravated by armed confrontations during elections.
Peace negotiators spent more than five years to convince elders of both sides to reconcile amicably and sign a covenant to restore family ties severed by misunderstanding.
This was made difficult by “maratabat,” or clan pride that everyone is deemed to protect as part of their culture.
Consequently, the reconciliation process takes longer because of the deep-seated animosity.
Major Gen. Arnel de la Vega, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said he is thankful to officials of the 6th Infantry Battalion based in Malabang, to Lanao del Sur Vice Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr. and local Maranao elders for initiating the reconciliation of the two clans.
De la Vega gave credit to the regional peace and order council of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao for helping address the problem through the ARMM’s incumbent regional vice governor, Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman Jr., who belongs to the Maranao tribe.
There were previous attempts to resolve the Balindong-Montañer rido but ended in futility because of intermittent clashes that affected the fragile peace in different villages in Malabang, touted as oldest Islamic settlement in Lanao del Sur.
Then another round of negotiations again started early this year, with Col. Jesus Sarsagat of the 603rd Infantry Brigade and Lt. Col. Ruben Aquino, commanding officer of the 6th IB, and representatives of Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, regional director of the ARMM regional police, acting as emissaries of intervening provincial and regional officials.
“We are thankful to the leaders of the two clans for putting closure to a vendetta feud that dragged on for many years,” de la Vega said.
He added that top leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is engaged in peace talks with the government, also helped urge the Balindong and Montañer clans to agree to a peaceful settlement of their family feud.