‘Gunbattles Provoked by Rebels'
There would have been no hostilities in Pikit, North Cotabato and surrounding towns had the Moro Islamic Liberation Front willingly allowed soldiers to run after kidnappers and bombing suspects in holding out in their enclaves in the area, the military told members of the House committee on national defense here yesterday. Major Gen. Generoso Senga, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, told the legislators, led by Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay, chair of the House defense committee, that fierce gunbattles early this month in Pikit were provoked through harassments by rebels of the soldiers sent there to run after members of the notorious Pentagon kidnap-for-ransom gang and other criminal bands. The skirmishes eventually led to the fall of all guerilla enclaves in Pikit and in Pagalungan, Maguindanao to government control. Pichay, along with Reps. Benasing Macarambon, Jr. of Lanao del Sur, Celso Lobregat of Zamboanga City, party list Rep. Satur Ocampo and other members of the House committee on national defense held a lengthy dialogue here with officials of the 6th ID as start of an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the continuing military-MILF hostilities in Central Mindanao. Pichay and his companions also met with local officials in the towns of Pikit and inspected evacuation sites in the area and interviewed people displaced in the hostilities which rocked the town last week and waned only after soldiers had driven MILF forces away from 11 barangays there. Full Story