Local resident recalls clash in Philippines
Oahu resident Fred Magdalena was close enough to hear gunfire Saturday as he left his hometown in Mindanao, where fighting has escalated between Philippine government forces and a Muslim separatist group.
"I'm not really worried that the violence would get inside the city," said Magdalena, who returned to Hawaii Saturday. His daughter, mother-in-law and sister-in-law live in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte province. "I haven't heard from them," he said. "I assume they are fine. There are many more troops inside the city.
Authorities imposed a 10 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew in Iligan today and suspended schools due to bomb threats and the unstable security situation.
The military bolstered its forces in the southern Philippines today, anticipating fresh Muslim rebel attacks after a rampage by about 200-500 Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas yesterday killed at least 37 people and displaced about 44,000 in Lanao del Norte province.
"I am concerned about the little villages where there were reports of people being shot by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front," said Magdalena, a faculty specialist and researcher at the University of Hawaii. "Most of business is at a halt there, and most of the residents in the affected areas are in evacuation centers."
"On the surface it looks like a religious conflict, but it is not correct to say it is purely religion," Magdalena said of the situation. "It is the same issue about controlling land."
The 11,000-strong rebels have been fighting for Muslim self-rule in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation for decades, and signed a 2003 cease-fire with the government. But a series of violent attacks in the south has raised doubts over peace prospects.lim self-rule in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation for decades, and signed a 2003 cease-fire with the government. But a series of violent attacks in the south has raised doubts over peace prospects.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.