BIFF has only 80 armed members, says army commander
CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao (MindaNews / July 28) – A military commander pursuing terrorist groups operating in Maguindanao and neighboring communities said that only around 80 armed members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) remained after many of them surrendered to the authorities and after the incessant operations carried out up to this time.
Col. Pedro Balisi Jr., commander of the 1st Mechanized Brigade operating in the Liguasan swamp and neighboring communities of Maguindanao, said efforts, with the help of communities, to convince BIFF members to surrender and that targeted military operations have gained ground.
He said that during their last surveillance, the strength of the BIFF weakened considerably.
Balisi said that even now, military troops are moving to capture or dismantle the BIFF. But he did not reveal the exact location of the operation.
The mayor of Datu Piang, Victor Samama, has confirmed that the huge roaring explosions and nightly gunfire in his municipality since last week are military activities against the BIFF.
Last December, the BIFF managed to break into downtown Datu Piang and exchanged fire with military and police forces. They torched a newly donated police car.
Today, 11 other members of the BIFF, led by a certain Kumander Bin Laden under the wing of the Bungos group and have operational commands in the municipalities of Datu Anggal Midtimbang and Shariff Aguak, have surrendered to the 6th Infantry Division ” Kampilan “, carrying high firearms with them.
These include an older model .50 caliber anti-aircraft machine gun, a .30 caliber machine gun, an M-203 grenade launcher, a sniper rifle, an RPG launcher, Garand rifles, rifles, and several ammunition.
Representatives from Datu Anggal Midtimbang and Shariff Aguak, led by former mayor Nathaniel Midtimbang and Shariff Aguak administrator Anwar Emblawa, pledged at the handover ceremony that they would help transform the surrenders.
They noted that the provincial government also distributes farm tractors under the Agila-Haven program.
Balisi said these developments only prove that “the security landscape in the region is changing” and that they have been able to contain the momentum of terrorist groups.
The surrenders were not present at the press conference after they allegedly asked not to be exposed to the media and the public, but they did have a photo shoot with the military inside the camp.
Major General Juvemax Uy, commander of the Central Joint Task Force, praised the efforts of his men and the cooperation of local government units in convincing the rebels to return to the government ranks and lead a normal life. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews)