COTABATO CITY – Three Maguindanao towns have declared a state of calamity due to ongoing armed conflict between the military and the Daesh-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), officials said Wednesday.
The conflict, which erupted on March 18, displaced thousands of civilians in the adjoining towns of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Shariff Saydona Mustapha, and Mamasapano.
On Tuesday, council members of the three towns approved separate resolutions putting their localities under the state of calamity to allow the utilization of local funds for relief operations to their affected constituents.
In Datu Saudi Ampatuan town, Mayor Edris Sindatok said the local government has set aside a quick response fund amounting to PHP483,000 for evacuees.
The municipality of Datu Saudi Ampatuan has 12,215 evacuees, while Shariff Saydona Mustapha has 8,585, and Mamasapano with 13,645.
The encounters were triggered by the presence of BIFF gunmen in Barangay Kitango, Datu Saudi Ampatuan town, on March 18, quickly spilling over to nearby areas.
“The armed hostilities displaced over 30,000 individuals from the three towns and are currently being attended by their LGUs,” Minister Naguib Sinarimbo of the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government–Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said on Wednesday.
Earlier, the town council of Talitay also approved a resolution putting the area under the state of calamity after some 700 families left their homes due to a “rido” (clan war) that erupted on March 22.
Lt. Col. John Paul Baldomar, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said the Talitay armed conflict displaced some 700 families or 3,500 individuals.
“The affected families were from Barangays Pageda and Gadingan of Talitay,” Baldomar said in a separate interview Wednesday.
He said some of the Talitay evacuees have started to return home, but others remained in evacuation centers. (PNA)