Land disputes and politics sparked most `rido' in ARMM
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Bobby Benito, director of ARMM’s Regional Reconciliation and Unification Commission, said on Wednesday that there are non-government organizations and groups helping in the resolution of clan wars in the autonomous region, among them the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Any rido can be settled peacefully through “blood money” to indemnify the families of fatalities and reciprocal concessions needed to appease both sides to hasten reconciliation.
Rido is partly blamed for the proliferation of loose firearms in the autonomous region, where Moro families keep them for protection from enemies and as status symbol.
Benito said the support of respectable datus and sultans and influential moderate Muslim clerics are also essential in reconciling feuding clans.
Benito said the major causes of clan wars in ARMM were discussed extensively during a dialogue last week among representatives of different entities involved in peace-building programs in the region.
The activity, held in Davao City, was attended by members of the MILF’s coordinating committee on cessation of hostilities and officials of the United Youth for Peace and Development.
Also present there were representatives from the Confederated Descendants of Rajah Mamalu Inc., the Tiyakap Kalilintad Inc. and the Maguindanao Task Force on Reconciliation and Unification.
The task force, operating under the ministerial control of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, has amicably settled more than 80 violent rido involving Maguindanaon clans in the past six years.
Also present in the dialogue in Davao City, sponsored by two foreign benefactors --- The Asia Foundation and Center for Humanitarian Dialogue --- were senior police and military officials.
The two international outfits are involved in various programs complementing the southern Mindanao peace process, which aims to put a negotiated closure to the now five-decade Mindanao Moro issue.
Benito said participants to the dialogue acknowledged the need for the extensive involvement of influential religious and traditional leaders in reconciling enemy clans.
“Sometimes there is also a question on the neutrality of leaders helping broker settlements. Only leaders who are not related to one of the two parties to the conflict are effective mediators,” Benito said.
For many peace activists, lack of prosecutors and judges is also among the factors that condone the proliferation of rido in the ARMM provinces.
“Most of the aggrieved parties do not have access to prosecutors and courts. Most of them believe that being poor is a hindrance to achieving justice through legal processes which requires enlistment of lawyers that they need to pay,” Benito said.
Benito said as a consequence, Moro families exact justice through retaliations on affronts on clan pride and honor.
Benito said the Army’s 6th Infantry Division in Maguindanao province and the Police Regional Office-ARMM are both active in helping bridge the gaps among feuding clans, enabling them and cooperating entities to settle conflicts diplomatically.
“Some of the rido we have settled were facilitated with the help of the MILF,” Benito said.
The MILF and the government are bound by a 1997 interim pact, the Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities, to cooperate in maintaining law and order in conflict flashpoint areas.
The accord also enjoins both sides to help each other neutralize criminal gangs and terrorists in areas where there are government-recognized MILF camps called “peace zones.”
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