MILF to Mangudadatus: Let’s settle the conflict in Buluan Lake amicably

THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is reaching out to the Mangudadatus in Buluan, Maguindanao to settle the long-standing conflict around Buluan Lake, the third largest lake in Mindanao and the sixth in the Philippines, amicably.

In a special meeting of the MILF Central Committee Saturday, March 5, a decision has been reached unanimously to create a special group tasked to spearhead a dialogue with the Mangudadatu’s clan headed by Maguindanao Governor Esmail  “Toto” Mangudadatu and former Sultan Kudarat Governor Datu Pax Mangudadatu.

The composition of the group is yet to be finalized, according to the MILF official site.

The site  quoted a  source in the MILF central governing body as saying that it is to the interest of everyone in the area and the Moros in general that internal conflicts shall be handled amicably on the basis of justice, brotherhood, and sharing.

“Besides, he said, “this is the teaching of Islam that in nor circumstances,
except for murder, that blood of a Muslim shall be shed for whatever reason.”

A week ago, bloody clashes between armed followers of the Mangudadatus and armed civilians, some of whom are identified with the MILF, occurred in at least two of the villages around the lake. Several persons were killed during the encounters.
Some 1,000 firearms including 20 M-60 machineguns and several bazookas are estimated to be in the arsenal of this clan.

At least 100 persons had been killed since the start of the conflict in late 80s during the time of Datu Pua Mangudadatu, the father of the incumbent Maguindanao governor. Many of those killed were landowners around the lake.

Political analysts said the cause of the fighting is rooted in land conflict and the rich resources including several varieties of fish found in the lake.

Buluan Lake has an estimated surface area of 61.34 square kilometers. A number of fish species, including climbing gurami, snakehead murrel, walking catfish, and spotted barb, can be found in the lake.

The lake is fed by a river rising in the hills of southern Mindanao, and drains north via the Buluan River into the Mindanao River. It is shallow, with a depth of 3-6m, greenish in colour, and has a muddy bottom.  It is bounded in the North by the Municipality of Buluan. East West by the Municipality of Lutayan and South by the Municipality of President Quirino. The lake is accessible by land and water through various entry points from the municipalities that encompassed the area.

The floating vegetation consists of water lily, water lettuce and swamp cabbage.

Agricultural plants such as rice, corn, coconuts, mangoes, bananas and other fruit-bearing trees are grown around the lake.

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