Army condemns BIFF atrocities in Maguindanao, vows to protect project PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 09 February 2016 11:34

The military here has condemned the atrocities committed by outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), saying it once again showed its true color.

Capt. Joann Petinglay, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, said beside clearly showing it was against development projects that would benefit Moro people in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao, including its own people, the BIFF even went to the extent of spreading lies.

Abu Misri Mama, speaking for the lawless group, claimed five soldiers were killed in the skirmishes that started Friday last week to date.

“No government forces killed in clashes,” Petinglay said.

She admitted the 2nd Mechanized Battalion that engaged the BIFF in four villages of Datu Salibo only had three injured soldiers, including Army Capt. Jimmy Amoloy, company commander of 22nd Mechanized Company, who Mama claimed to have died.

Petinglay could not say how many BIFF were killed as the soldiers recovered no dead bodies.

“That information about 20 BIFF fatalities came from civilians in areas where the BIFF operates,” she said. “We cannot confirm nor deny that because we have not recovered dead bandits.”

A flood control project in Barangay Butilen, Datu Salibo, Maguindanao has been going on smoothly until the BIFF bandits harassed private firm workers last Friday, even setting on fire two backhoe used for dredging the Butilen river.

When elements of the 22nd Mechanized Company responded to citizen’s reports, BIFF sniped them using Barret cal. 50 and planted improvised explosive devices along the military route.

Army bomb experts conducting bomb clearing operations were also subjected to sniper fire, forcing the Army to use its artillery.

The bandit group claimed the construction firm and the military did not coordinate with the BIFF before dredging the river, a statement downplayed by the Army spokesperson.

“The government, in implementing development projects that would spare civilians from floods, is not obliged to coordinate with any lawless elements, much more the BIFF,” Petinglay said.

She laughed off claims by Misri the Army suffered five fatalities. “That is clearly propaganda,” she said.

Lt. Colonel Warlito Limet, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion commander, said he could not give exact number of fatalities but based on information on the ground, the BIFF suffered heavy casualties.

“The BIFF is opposed to the road project because it will give military easy access to the group’s lair,” according to Colonel Felicisimo Budiongan, 1st Mechanized Brigade commander.

Alex Manuel, action officer of Maguindanao Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) Officer Alex Manuel, said at least 1,500 families have evacuated to safer grounds for fear of getting caught in the cross fire.

Manuel said Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Toto Mangudadatu has ordered the provincial relief team to attend to the needs of displaced families.

The dredging project was funded from the development fund of Maguindanao 2nd district Rep. Zajid Mangudadatu aimed at preventing floods in Datu Salibo town.

The silt taken from the heavily silted Butilen river are used on farm to market road projects that will connect villages of Tee, Sambolawan and Butilen, all in Datu Salibo.

Petinglay said the military will continue to assist the project implementation “because it will benefit the people of Datu Salibo.”