Thursday Nov, 30 2023 02:56:24 AM

Remembering the bloody January 25, 2015 `Mamasapano incident'

 • 02:32 AM Fri Jan 22, 2016
John Unson

MAMASAPANO, Maguindanao -- For most southern peace activists, the Mindanao peace process was so promising until the bloody January 25, 2015 Mamasapano incident” shook the nation to its core and challenged the 19-year initiative.The nation will commemorate on Monday the 1stanniversary of the incident.Most villagers in Mamasapano, a fledgling town in the second district of Maguindanao, thought the initial bursts of gunshots they heard before dawn that day was only an exchange of gunfire between feuding Moro rebel factions. We thought it was just the usual, ordinary thing, until we realized the bursts of automatic weapons and blasts of RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) kept recurring until after noontime that day,” Kadiguia, wife of an ethnic Maguindanaon farmer, said in Maguindanaon dialect.Villagers never knew the first gunshots they heard then were the salvo of a chain of events that were to catalyze changes in their idyllic life, sustained only by farming, generating measly periodic income often not even enough for three decent meals each day.The deadly 11-hour encounter in three barangays in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao left 44 operatives of the police’s Special Action Force (SAF), 17 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and five innocent civilians dead. We didn’t knew members of the SAF had arrived to hunt for a Malaysian terrorist named Marwan and a local counterpart named Abdulbasit Usman,” farmer Badrudin, 46, pointed out in the local vernacular.What was most saddening for peace activists in Central Mindanao was how the incident stymied the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the enabling measure for the creation of a Bangsamoro political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).The much-delayed BBL, earlier certified as an urgent bill by President Benigno Aquino III, was premised on the March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB), the final peace compact between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.While the Mamasapano incident had raised sensational issues about the government-MILF peace overture, it ushered in dramatic improvements in the socio-economic landscape of Mamasapano town, as a consequence of the carnage.Costly projects were immediately poured in by the ARMM government into the municipality to address underdevelopment in the three Mamasapano barangays where SAF operatives, MILF forces and a third group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) figured in deadly gunfights.The hostilities dislocated some two thousand families, mostly relying only on sustenance farming to survive.The Mamasapano incident gave three ARMM officials, Gov. Mujiv Hataman, his public works secretary, Don Mustapha Loong, and the chief of Maguindanao’s 2ndDistrict Engineering Office, Zainal James” Mlok, a chance to prove their mettle in public service.They successfully co-managed the implementation, from February to December 2015, of about P100 million worth of infrastructure projects in Mamasapano and nearby towns, designed to hasten the recovery of the communities affected by the incident. We now have schools in the surroundings, water systems and a more durable Tukanalipao Bailey bridge,” a mother of three, Fatima, said in Filipino.Fatima was referring to the newly-built bridge connecting the banks of a river straddling through Barangay Tukanalipao, near the iconic timber footbridge just few meters away from one of the three scenes of the January 25, 2015 SAF-MILF-BIFF encounters. The Mamasapano incident has done irreversible damages to the Mindanao peace process,” lamented a Visayan Christian sect leader in nearby Ampatuan in Maguindanao.The source, who asked not to be identified, said the government-MILF peace efforts need to continue, but with caution and mutual commitment from both sides to help each other prevent incidents that can again derail the process.The thousands of villagers dislocated by the Mamasapano incident had long returned to their peasant enclaves, now trying to start all over again.People residing in the scenes of the January 25, 2015 Mamasapano SAF-MILF-BIFF encounters are hoping the Mindanao peace process can regain momentum. We’re sick and tired of conflicts. We want to thrive in peace. We need to move on. We should not repeat our mistakes in the past,” said Salma, a high school student.

Cotabato Light announces Dec. 3 NGCP-initiated power interruption

COTABATO CITY - The Cotabato Light and Power Company (Cotabato Light) today announced the scheduled power service interruption of the National Grid...

Bangsamoro town hall to rise in Mapun island

COTABATO CITY – The most isolated municipality in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) will soon have its own new municipal...

Former guerilla-medics now barangay health workers

COTABATO CITY - The Bangsamoro government has initially employed 1,049 former combatant-medics of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, among them women...

Estudyante na isang CAFGU, patay sa pamamaril sa Pikit

ESTUDYANTE, patay sa pamamaril sa isang paaralan sa Barangay Ginatilan, Pikit, North Cotabato ngayong umaga ng November 29, 2023. Sa inisyal na...

NDBC BIDA BALITA (Nov. 29, 2023)

HEADLINES 1   SPECIAL Investigation Group, binuo upang resolbahin ang pagpatay sa Indian national sa Datu Paglas 2  ...