Army assures Teduray tribal leaders of protection vs. BIFF

Peace and Order • Wed Jan 10, 2018 09:41 AM  •  136   0
By Edwin O. Fernandez
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Lt. Colonel Gerry Besana, 6th CMO chief, meets with Teduray Lambangian tribal leaders assuring them the Army will protect IPs in Maguindanao. (CMO photo)
Lt. Colonel Gerry Besana, 6th CMO chief, meets with Teduray Lambangian tribal leaders assuring them the Army will protect IPs in Maguindanao. (CMO photo)
COTABATO CITY -- The military here has assured the Teduray communities in Maguindanao who are the subject of atrocities by IS inspired armed men the Army is there to protect them from harm.

After the recent clashes in Teduray ancestral domain, some 17 Members of the Cultural Communities of Lambangian (CCOL) and the Office of the Teduray Lambangian Ancestral Claim (OTLAC), headed by their Supreme Tribal Chief, asked an open dialogue and security assistance from the Civil Military Operations (Kasanga) Battalion of the 6th ID Philippine Army, through their Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Gerry M. Besana on January 8, 2018 at 6CMO Bn Hq, PC Hill, Cotabato City.

Each of the tribal leaders was asked of their pressing issues in their respective areas. The immediate concern was the recent skirmishes happened at Mt. Firis complex.

Last Christmas was not a joyous celebration for the Teduray, an Indigenous group in Maguindanao, due to attacks of lawless members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) group.

The terrorist group burned 3 houses on Dec. 25 and again razed more 18 houses to the ground on Dec. 31, 2017 near Mt. Firis, a sacred site for Tedurays in Sitio Makon, Brgy Kabintog, Datu Hoffer, Maguindanao

These peaceful Teduray farmers in their fertile ancestral domain are afraid for their lives now for they do not know when will be the next attack of BIFF.

After the harassment, some 285 Teduray families have fled to safer areas as they are threatened by BIFF who wants to grab their lands and kidnapped and killed some of their tribal members.

Concerned government agencies have accounted almost 800 families composed of more or less 5,000 individuals affected by the recent hostilities.

The tribal leaders, by all means, are duty bound to defend their ancestral domain, thus they seek the help of the military.

Mt. Firis is smacked in the middle of Maguindanao’s Datu Hoffer, Ampatuan, Datu Unsay, Guindulungan, Talayan and Datu Saudi towns, which until now the clear boundaries have not been determined.

During the dialogue, the Teduray tribal leaders have expressed their utmost message to Lt. Col. Besana, that the military have already won the hearts of Teduray for they know that the military will protect them especially in this time of crisis.

Most of the teduray have been baptized as Christians and the tribal leaders also clarified that there are no other Christian settlers from other municipalities that were gathered as previously reported.

On the onset of the meeting, Lt. Col. Besana emphasized the guidance of Major General Arnel dela Vega, Commander of 6th Infantry Division and Joint Task Force Central that “the military’s primary concern is the safety and security of the people. We will not let up on our campaign against the terrorist group.”

In response to the said attack, the military has unleashed series of bombardments of 105mm howitzers and aerial strikes that impelled the bandits group BIFF to run for their lives.

To date the military has conducted clearing operation to scour the area at the encounter site.
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