Villagers displaced by hostilities between 2 Moro factions

MOST of the villagers displaced by the fighting between two Moro groups are now at a public gymnasium in South Manuangan in Pigcawayan. — PHILIPPINE STAR/JOHN FELIX M. UNSON

COTABATO CITY — A Moro gunman was killed while six others were reportedly hurt in a series of gunfights on Wednesday afternoon in Barangay Banucagon in Pigcawayan town, Cotabato that sent hundreds of villagers running for their lives.

Barangay officials and personnel of the Pigcawayan Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office told reporters on Thursday morning that at least 600 villagers, among them children, were displaced by the hostilities.

Citing reports relayed by local executives and officials of Army units in the province, Col. Gilbert B. Tuzon, director of the Cotabato provincial police, told reporters that the protagonists in the gunfights are two enemy groups be-longing to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Evacuees, among them three Muslim religious preachers, confirmed that one of the fighters had died in battle, while six others were wounded.

They said the gunfights are rooted in squabbles over the control of territories that were heightened by during the Oct. 30, 2023 synchronized Sangguniang Kabataan and barangay elections when they supported rival candidates.

Displaced residents are now temporarily housed at the public gymnasium in Barangay South Manuangan, Pigcawayan, while some have moved to houses of relatives in agricultural enclaves far from the areas where the two MILF groups have been fighting. — John Felix M. Unson