ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Soldiers of the Joint Task Force Zampelan, mobilized in the wake of a clan war in Lanao del Sur, seized nine assorted firearms after a clearing operation early Saturday morning (January 6, 2018), the Western Mindanao Command reported.
Military units were first deployed Friday afternoon to Barangay Madanding, Bacolod Kalawi town, when two warring factions from the Amanodin and Dipatuan clans of the same village engaged in a firefight, temporarily disrupting the flow of traffic along the highway.
Unidentified armed men fired at the responding soldiers as they arrived at the encounter site, prompting them to fire back.
After an hour of fighting, the clash subsided, bringing back the flow of traffic to normal.
“Our soldiers acted immediately since we received reports that there were civilian casualties and many civilians in the area panicked due to the fighting,” said Major General Roseller Murillo, commander of the Joint Task Force Zampelan.
“We would not tolerate any incidents of Rido [clan war] anywhere in our area of operation and we will continue to conduct support to law enforcement operations together with the PNP.”
At 10:30 Saturday morning, the soldiers who were on clearing operations were able to recover the following: three M14 rifles; three M16 rifles; two M653 rifles; one caliber .22 rifle; and assorted magazines and ammunition.
The firearms were believed to be just recently fired, based on the carbon deposits found by troops on the mouth of the barrel.
“We are still investigating as to who owns the firearms recovered,” added Murillo. “Our operating troops are certain that they were just recently fired. It is possible that the same firearms were used during the recent clash.”
The recovered firearms are with the 103rd Brigade for documentation, finger printing, tracing and immediate filing of appropriate charges.
“I would like to commend the combined AFP and PNP forces under MGen Murillo for acting swiftly to contain and stabilize the situation,” said Lieutenant General Carlito G Galvez, Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command.
“Henceforth this will be our template. The warring parties will be immediately disarmed and charged in order to prevent the unnecessary loss of innocent lives and strictly observe the rule of law,” added Galvez.
Government troops are still in the area conducting a thorough search, while holding a dialogue with Bacolod Kalawi Municipal Officials and traditional leaders.