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Muslims asked to help protect Christians amid attacks

 • 01:51 AM Thu Dec 31, 2015
Nash B. Maulana
DSWD-ARMM and ARMM-HEART met with widows of farmers killed by BIFF in Kauran, Ampatuan, Maguindanao. (Photo courtesy of Myrna Jo Henry of ARMM-HEART)

DATU ABDULLAH SANGKI, Maguindanao — Mayor Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu has asked Muslim residents to help protect local Christians, even as she condemned the brigands behind the Christmas Eve attacks in two sub-villages here and in nearby Ampatuan town.Mangudadatu said whoever did the December 24 attacks, she deemed the crime unjust” and inhuman.” And so we condemn the group that perpetrated this. Our municipality, Datu Abdullah Sangki, is one of the most peaceful towns in the Province of Maguindanao, where the Christians and the Muslims live peacefully together, Sangki-Mangudadatu said in a statement written in Filipino, and posted on her face book account.She said the attacks were the handiwork of a group with anti-peace” agenda, adding that the farmerswere killed defenseless in Sitio (sub-village) Kakal here and in Sabadoan in nearby Ampatuan.Abu Misri Mama, the spokesperson of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), owned up the killing for his group, although claiming that the victims were armed. However, village officials belied Mama's claim.The Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Division also condemned the killing of 11 residents, most of them farmers, as identified by local authorities.Lawyer Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, former city administrator of Cotabato, cited the case of Barangay Sharif, whose Muslim Barangay Chairman Sukarno Utto would help secure churchgoers, along the city's Notre Dame Avenue up to early morning during the pre-Christmas Simbang Gabi tradition. The 6th ID condemns the treacherous act of the lawless group, BIFF, and will not allow them to continue thriving within Central Mindanao,” said Major General Edmundo Pangilinan, commanding-general of the 6th ID based in Awang, Maguindanao.Both Mangudadatu and Pangilinan sent messages to express their sympathy to the families of the victims of the brigand group.”Former Maguindanao Board Member Victor Samama said the province’s Muslim and Christian residents should be looking back to the years when they protected each other from harm, instead of resorting to enmity.Samama and other leaders made the appeal the day after the incident, which coincided with the reunion on of Muslim and Christian alumni of a Catholic school in Datu Piang town, and the commemoration of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad on Maulidin Nabi, corresponding this year to December 26.Unlike ordinary local Muslims, extremist groups like the BIFF and Abu Sayyaf do not believe in offering food and charity in commemorating the birth of the Prophet Muhammad.Capt Jo-Ann Petinglay said Pangilinan also ordered the venue of the post-Christmas Muslim-Christian convergence at the Notre Dame of Dulawan (NDD) Grand Alumni Homecoming.The school’s alumni from 1954 to 2015 gathered at the campus. They saidinter-religious dialogue pioneered by the school could help save residents from the peril of sectarian violence that is prevalent in the Middle East.Samama said NDD, the only Catholic school here, had saved the lives of the Muslim and Christian residents not once but several times.

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