Five Filipino clan families engaged in a longstanding feuds that have claimed dozens of lives on all sides, came together on Friday to sign a peace covenant to end the bloodshed.
The five Moro clans from the province of Maguindanao, located in the southern island of Mindanao, came together in Tacurong City to sign the accord before the Holy Koran, ostensibly ending 16 years of violence and warfare.
The Sarosong, Mohmin, Marandang, Taug and Bantilan clans came together under the bidding of Maguindanao governor Esmael Toto Mangudadatu and Brig. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, at a ceremony attended by local, police and military officials.
Maguindanao, a province with a population of less than a million people, maintains the most number of violent family clan conflicts, known as "rido," in Mindanao, which has suffered decades of Muslim rebellions.
Many of the clans are engaged in struggles over political power, land control, business and past grudges that have escalated as a result of challenges to each clan's “maratabat” or family honor and reputation, according to local media.
“Their misunderstanding stemmed from land dispute in Maguindanao," Mangudadatu said at the signing, adding the families are actually blood related. "We are happy all agreed to settle their rido amicably."
Mangudadatu has himself been the victim of such clan attacks, notably in 2009 when 58 people traveling in a gubernatorial election convoy supporting the then vice mayor of Buluan town were murdered in what was later called the Maguindanao Massacre.
Among those killed were Mangudadatu's wife, sister, aunt, supporters, bystanders and at least 34 journalists, making it one of the most deadly attacks on the press in history.
The gruesome murders, involving victim beheadings and shots to the groin, was linked to members of the Ampatuan political family, some of whom were later arrested and charged with murder.
The government's attempts to unify and restore peace in the area under the Maguindanao Reconciliation and Unification Council (MRUC) has been a protracted, rocky affair.
The new peace accord signed by the five families brings the total number of clan wars settled in the area to 30 since 2010, Chief Supt. Noel Delos Reyes, police director for Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao told local media.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons