Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Two Warring Sulu Muslim Clans End Fighting; Sign Peace Covenant

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / August 19, 2009) – Two prominent Muslim clans engaged in bloody feud in the southern Filipino province of Sulu have signed a peace covenant ending four years of hostilities.

The Caluang-Halun clans signed the peace covenant during a thanksgiving ceremony held in Zamboanga City over the weekend. The ceremony was attended by over 200 mostly clan elders and members led by former Mayor Al Hussein Caluang and Hajji Peping Halun, village chieftain of Pitogo in Kalingalan Caluang town.

Both Caluang and Halun are prominent clans in the towns of Kalingalan Caluang and Luuk in Sulu, according to Commissioner Mukattil Adjail, of the Regional Reconciliation and Unification Commission in the Muslim autonomous region.

“The covenant signed by the Caluang and Halun clans will surely bring peace in Sulu and stop the hostilities between the two sides,” Adjail told the Mindanao Examiner.

He said the feud started when in November 2005, Don Caluang, who was a former mayor in Kalingalan Caluang town, was killed in Zamboanga City. The succeeding retaliations between the two clans left two dozen people dead and 14 injured from both sides.

“This reconciliation was made possible through the efforts of Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, the Regional Reconciliation and Unification Commission of Sulu province and local non-governmental organizations, the United Youth of the Philippines–Women, Inc. and Sakayan Mindanao, with the support of The Asia Foundation and United States Agency for International Development,” Adjail said.

Ampatuan, who is actively involved in the settlement of clan feuds, is the governor of the Muslim autonomous region to which Sulu belongs. While The Asia Foundation funded meetings and other activities related to the peaceful resolutions of clan feuds, Adjail said.

In a separate statement, Dr Steven Rood, Country Representative of The Asia Foundation said: “As the Holy Month of Ramadan approaches some time next week, this celebration of reconciliation between the Caluang and Halun families is truly a blessing and an inspiration for all of us.”

“This reconciliation of the two families is inspirational because it is a shining example of a path to peace attained through hard work, sincere dialogue, and genuine forgiveness,” he added.

Clan war or locally known as “rido” is common in many parts of the southern Philippines and so far had resulted in the killings of more than 5,000 people over the past seven decades. (Mindanao Examiner)

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