Bantay Ceasefire Report on the Displacement of Civilians in Six Barangays of Midsayap, Cotabato

Around 1,235 families, or some 6,000 individuals from Barangays Rangaban, Mudseng, Tugal, Tumbras, Nes and Nabalawag in Midsayap, Cotabato have abandoned their homes and temporarily took shelter in schools, houses of relatives and other structures like turugan (meeting place) as a result of fighting between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) which started January 25, 2007.

Many families also stayed only under the trees along the highway connecting Midsayap and Datu Piang of Maguindanao. The exact number of evacuees could not be ascertained as many were considered “mobile evacuees” who had their sleds and tractors parked under the trees along the highway that served as their temporary shelters.


Around 1,235 families, or some 6,000 individuals from Barangays Rangaban, Mudseng, Tugal, Tumbras, Nes and Nabalawag in Midsayap, Cotabato have abandoned their homes and temporarily took shelter in schools, houses of relatives and other structures like turugan (meeting place) as a result of fighting between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) which started January 25, 2007.

Many families also stayed only under the trees along the highway connecting Midsayap and Datu Piang of Maguindanao.  The exact number of evacuees could not be ascertained as many were considered “mobile evacuees” who had their sleds and tractors parked under the trees along the highway that served as their temporary shelters.

Brief Account of the incident

January 25, 2007, Thursday

It was reported that early in the morning of January 25, 2007, Thursday, an armed encounter occurred between Bantay Bayan Forces, also known as Civilian Volunteers Organization, and alleged some members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The encounter, which was reportedly triggered by a land dispute, happened at Sitio Taboboc, Barangay Rangaban early in the morning of that day. One Bantay Bayan members died in the incident that subsequently triggered fiercer fighting between government and MILF troopers.

In the evening, the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion was immediately deployed in Mudseng and neighboring barangays Rangaban and Nes.

January 26, 2005, Friday

The AFP engaged the MILF forces in an armed encounter with MILF forces in Mudseng. Mortar shelling was allegedly employed by both camps. Two soldiers belonging to the 7th Infantry Battalion were severely wounded. One of them was airlifted to Manila for treatment while the other one was treated in a local hospital. The fighting happened at 6:00 in the morning and at 3:00 in the afternoon.

The MILF peace-keeping force installed by both the government and rebel groups were reportedly dragged into the fighting.

The local Social Welfare Department was able to monitor 735 families who abandoned their homes and evacuated to safer places along the Midsayap-Datu Piang National High Way.

A woman civilian was reportedly hit by mortar shrapnel and was treated in a local hospital.

January 27, 2007, Saturday

Armed encounters reportedly continued on the ground. At around 10:00 in the morning, two bomber planes of the government were observed to have dropped bombs in Mudseng.

The aerial bombing was preceded by another exodus of civilians to safer areas by residents not only from Mudseng, but also from five other adjacent barangays, namely, Tugal, Rangaban, Nes, Nabalawag and a few families from Tumbras.

On this day, the MILF started massing up troops just as the Army also sent additional soldiers, the 40th Infantry Battalion.

January 28, 2007, Sunday

There was no armed encounter monitored on this day but at around 10:00 in the morning, gunfire from somewhere in Barangay Tugal was heard by both government and MILF troops.

At around 11:00 in the evening, residents of Tumbras were alarmed with the deployment of three 6 x 6 Army trucks reportedly deployed to secure the area as national government officials were coming the following day, January 29, 2007.  The alarmed residents vacated to safer grounds that same evening.

See full text of report (in .pdf)

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