BULUAN, Maguindanao: An interim peace agreement to end a bloody land dispute that has been going on for years here was initiated by Governor Esmael Mangudadatu recently.
The parties, composed of Muslim inhabitants and Christian settlers, agreed on a truce conceding to the peaceful resolution of their disputes for ownership of farm lots in Datu Abdullah Sangki town.
Datu Abdullah Sangki is home to mixed Muslim and Christian settlers, located in the second district of Maguindanao.
The peace initiative, according to Magudadatu, was made possible with the help of Mayor Bai Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu of Datu Abdullah Sangki, Army Gen. Glen Macasero and Butch Malang of the joint ceasefire committee of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Signatories to the agreement also acknowledged the need for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Agrarian Reform in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to help resolve the land disputes without military intervention.
Macasero and Malang, chairpersons of the government and MILF’s ceasefire committees, respectively, also affixed their signatures to the peace agreement. The agreement was signed at the governor’s office
The government and the MILF are bound by the 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities to cooperate in addressing security concerns in troubled areas in Southern Mindanao.
The Moro and Visayan farmers, who are mostly Ilonggo settlers, in Barangay Banaba, have been fighting over more than 60 hectares of lands for many years now.
Clashes in the past two months resulted in fatalities on both sides with hundreds of Muslim and Christian villagers dislocated by the hostilities, according to Noralyn Udasan-Nul of the ARMM’s Humanitarian Emergency Action Response Team.
The contested lands in Barangay Banaba are covered by land titles under Daisy Bansil but other claimants surfaced that caused the conflict.
Mangudadatu said both parties also agreed not to “import” armed sympathizers.
Sources told The Manila Times the Visayan settlers are reportedly supported by a civilian armed group known as “Tadtad” while the Moro, who are the original inhabitants, are backed up by forces belonging to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
Meanwhile, Commander Qudz Simpal of the Moro National Liberation Front Zone of Peace Command with camp at Datu Abdullah Sangki, said they support the peace agreement.