Parang, Maguindanao (August 29) –The Run for Peace and Solidarity for Mindanao experienced its first real sense of a conflict unique to Mindanao when it passed through an area that was just riven with “rido” two days ago.
Members of the Balindong clan clashed with each other in an almost one kilometer stretch of the Narciso Ramos highway between Picong and Malabang municipalities in Lanao del Sur. The runners of the Peace Run were escorted through the stretch by elements of the 51st Infantry Brigade led by Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Marlon Ceasar Yadao. Carrying the “peace torch”, leaders of civil society organizations involved in the run walked the 300 or so meters where only two days ago was a virtual “no-man’s land”. They called on the warring family members to reconcile and “sort out their differences through continuing and patient dialogue”.
No casualties were however reported in the fighting that erupted between cousins of the powerful clan. The “rido” is reported to have been ongoing for years due to conflict in land ownership and local politics.
Local government officials intimated to the runners that the “rido” was a manifestation of a deeper problem of a combination of “proliferation of loose firearms; absence of the rule of law and the lingering effects of Martial Law”.
While the Run for Peace aims to call for a negotiated settlement to the broader political conflict in Mindanao, the “rido” in Malabang was both a stark reminder and a manifestation of a conflict where the rule of law is blatantly ignored, and the fate of a community is determined by others other than themselves.