Bloodiest "rido" settled
By Mai Gevera
Davao City (2 February) -- Held in a safe ground at the Eden Mountain Resort in Davao City, the infamous family feud in Southern Mindanao between the Imam and Macapeges clan was finally settled.
It took the two warring clans four attempts of reconciliation initiated by different influential and high-ranking authorities before finally putting an end to the conflict.
The Community Organizing Multiversity, a non-government organization, turned to be the successful mediating body as it was able to convince both parties to forget about the feud that rooted from politics as both Kahir Macapeges and Nasser Imam ran for mayor in the last 2001 elections.
Politics then became the reason for series of killings among the relatives and even to just bystanders who are not involved in the feud.
The municipality of Matanog in the Autonomous Muslim Mindanao is seen as a "hot spot", one that is feared by visitors.
"Ito ang lugar na nakakatakot puntahan kasi pwedeng magkaroon agad ng patayan sa isang saglit lang na magkatinginan ang dalawang miyembro ng angkan," said one member of the Macapeges clan.
Rido or the term used to refer a serious and violent form of family vengeance was considered as the major factor for the underdevelopment of the Matanog town.
There was lack of cooperation, participation, as well as implementation of supposed government projects as plenty of the town folks were against the present administration.
Nasser Imam is now the incumbent mayor of Matanog, a position which he recently taken over from the former mayor Kahir Macapeges. Both are said to be relatives but chose to act like the worst enemies for over six years due to politics.
The feud caused death of nine relatives and a few bystanders and it even destroyed some of the properties of both clans.
After three attempts in the past to bring an end to the conflict, 2007 was again seen as the right time for the Community Organizers Multiversity handled by Bing Constantino to meddle and help both parties settle the feud.
"Of course, we have our own strategies and techniques used for this particular case. But first and foremost, we waited for the willingness for both parties before we started the reconciliation process." Constantino said.
The intervention was designed by The Asia Foundation which got some funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Wilfredo Torres, program officer of the said foundation, stressed that resolving "rido" is always a collective effort as every member of a community can have important roles to play in preventing, managing, and settling conflicts.
"We felt that it is about time that we forget all those harsh things that we have done to each other and simply follow the Qur'an that calls each one of us to live peacefully," said former mayor Kahir Macapeges.
Mayor Nasser Imam, on the other hand, has also seen the necessity to settle the conflict as it could positively benefit in his governance as the incumbent mayor.
Bing Constantino laid the groundwork in last August 2007 and she was able to gather both families to undergo series of meetings in the last quarter of 2007.
December was the initial target of the signing of the agreement, however, other issues were further settled until it was finally pushed to January of 2008.
Bing shared that the mediation was highly supported by the different local chief executives in the neighboring towns and the mother province. The financial support that came from the LGUs fueled the mediators to conduct the meetings and other coordination activities.
Conditions in the agreement
Both parties agreed to fully forgive one another without relying on the idea of a "blood money". Other settlement cases involved the payment of each aggrieved family for the loss of a family member brought about by the family conflict. However, both the Macapeges and Imam agreed to simply forget those death incidents and seek no payment for any life lost.
Another condition stated that both parties will have to drop all the cases filed in court which are related to the family conflict.
"This will enable them to start anew and completely forget about the harsh incidents that happened to both families," Constantino said.
The Asia Foundation also committed to provide P450,000 financial assistance to both families as one way of helping them improve their livelihood.
"This is just too small if we are to distribute this amount to all family members of both clans. But we are still hoping to gather other financial support from other funding agencies."she added.
Peace in their Hearts
It was a simple ceremony that started with a solemn prayer in Maranao, followed by the inspiring messages from all the people who became instrumental to the settlement of this family feud, followed by the signing of the agreement from the representatives of both parties, and ended with the hugs, tears, and handshakes.
The few women who attended the ceremony hardly contained their emotions and even burst into tears.
"We are crying not because of hatred but because of the happiness that we have been feeling right now," said Myra Macapeges who clearly recalled the days when she could hardly say a word to a member of the Imam family.
She narrated that both clans are actually related but the close bond was only broken due to political conflict.
Both clans were grateful to the Community Organizers Multiversity, The Asia Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the ARMM Regional Reconciliation and Unification Commission. (PIA) [top]