Hundreds of residents from both settlers and Lumads left their homes in a remote area in the hinterland of Arakan town in North Cotabato after a group of armed indigenous people on Monday entered their village to avenge the death of a kin, reports said.
The Lumads, according to Arakan municipal information officer Leo Reovoca, were members of the Matigsalog tribe from neighboring Barangay Tawas in Kitaotao, Bukidnon. He said that the armed Matigsalogs wanted to avenge the death of one of their tribesmen who got killed after he attended a public dance in a nearby barangay on September 30.
The Lumads, said Reovoca, call this as “pangayaw” or “revenge.” He added that the relatives of the slain Matigsalog believed the killer resides in Barangay Sumalili in Arakan, so they went to the area the next day and hacked to death a certain Dolfo Handumon, an Ilonggo. Reovoca stressed that Handumon had nothing to do with the September 30 killing of a Matigsalog.
Handumon, according to Reovoca, was tending his farm when a group of armed Matigsalogs killed him on the spot on that day. “When the residents of Barangay Sumalili knew what happened to Handumon, they left the place for fear of also being killed by the natives,” said the municipal information officer.
Reovoca said that on October 2, in the hope of settling the disputes between the Matigsalogs and residents of Barangay Sumalili, Arakan Mayor Rene Rubino went to the area and started to dialogue with the concerned families. During the talks attended by tribal elders, both parties agreed to pay the Matigsalog family a certain amount as “blood money,” Reovoca said. “Mayor Rubino, on his part, bought a carabao worth P15,000 and gave the farm animal to the bereaved family of the slain Matigsalog. There was peaceful settlement of the issue after that,” he said.
On Wednesday, however, residents of Barangay Sumalili again panicked after they saw a group of armed men entering their village, said Chief Insp. Jose Mari Molina of the Arakan police. “Instead of returning to their homes on October 3, they chose to stay at the barangay center for fear another killing might take place,” said Reovoca. He could not yet ascertain if the area is now safe for their constituents.
“The mayor has ordered the PNP to closely monitor the village and already sought help from the Army to ensure nothing … will happen again in our place,” Reovoca said. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)