Southern Philippine Ambush Kills MILF Commander, 8 Others

Jeoffrey Maitem and Mark Navales
2022.02.12
Cotabato, Philippines
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Southern Philippine Ambush Kills MILF Commander, 8 Others A Philippine police investigator searches for evidence on Saturday after nine people were killed in an ambush of two vehicles in Maguindanao province, Feb. 12, 2022.
Mark Navales/BenarNews

Armed men ambushed a two-vehicle convoy carrying a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) commander traveling through a southern Philippine village on Saturday, killing nine and injuring three others, authorities said.

The men attacked the convoy of Peges Mamasainged, also known as Commander Black Magic, around 8:30 a.m. in Tambunan village in Maguindanao province, according to provincial police commander Col. Jibin Bongcayao.

“The motive of the incident is the long-standing family feud of the involved parties,” the police official said.

Mamasainged, a member of the MILF’s inner guard base command, was traveling to a nearby village when he was killed along with five relatives and three unidentified individuals. Authorities did not release details on those who were injured.

Bongcayao identified MILF members Jordan Mama Lintang and his son, Morsid, as the alleged leaders of the attack. He did not say if any of the attackers were injured or if members of the convoy fired back.

MILF spokesman Von Al Haq, meanwhile, said the father and son were not members of the organization. The MILF signed a peace agreement with the government in 2014, ending its long-running separatist insurgency in the region.

In predominantly Muslim areas of Mindanao Island, it is not unusual for families to settle differences through clan wars known as “rido.” Hostilities could last for decades until a peace pact is signed, usually through mediation by religious leaders along with a cash payment.

Political rivalries, ancestral land claims, disputes over local fiefdoms as well as election-related feuds often spur clan wars in Mindanao, the country’s mineral-rich southern third.

“Police and military personnel have been deployed in the area to prevent escalation of the incident,” Bongcayao said.

Al Haq, the MILF spokesman, told BenarNews the organization’s ceasefire team was on the ground as well to help prevent the situation from getting worse.

“It’s confirmed that those people ambushed were our men. The suspects are not connected with us,” he said. “We are checking if it’s election related.”

On May 9, Filipinos will vote to elect a new president and vice president, fill 12 of the 24 Senate and all 316 House seats along with about 18,000 official positions ranging from governors to mayors and town councilors.

Philippine elections, especially in the countryside, are traditionally marred by violence. In 2019, 23 people were killed and 50 injured during mid-term polls and as many as 50 people died in poll-related violence during the 2016 presidential election, according to statistics from the national police.

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