Army in Central Mindanao on alert against bombers PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 06 January 2011 15:16

The Army's 6th Infantry "Kampilan" Division based here fielded Tuesday more intelligence operatives in areas vulnerable to bombings and other terrorist acts by lawless groups to prevent a repeat of last year's attacks on buses and public terminals in Central Mindanao.

"We are making sure this time that we are several steps ahead of lawless groups," Major Marlowe Patial, civil military chief of the 6th ID, said.

He said the 6th ID’s component brigades in surrounding provinces have also been tasked to secure the entry and exit points armed lawless groups use when they intrude to areas where they perpetrate bombings either for revolutionary objectives or scare businessmen and force them to shell out “protection money.”

"While the alert status during the holidays have been lifted, our troops are not letting their guards down," Patria said.

At least more than 20 bombing incidents blamed on extortion gangs in the provinces of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato, and in Cotabato City have recorded in the past two years.

The notorious Al-Khobar extortion ring, which is composed of rogue Moro rebels, have claimed responsibility for some of the recent bombings, threatening to perpetrate more if businessmen targeted for extortion would continue to ignore demands for protection from lawless groups.

“These security preparations are being initiated in close coordination with local government units, the police and religious and political leaders in our AOR (area of responsibility),” Patria said.

Major Gen. Anthony Alcantra, 6th ID commanding general, has also enlisted the help of Muslim religious leaders in far-flung communities in helping monitor any unusual movements of armed lawless groups in their respective communities.

The Army is also closely watching an emerging faction in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which formed another group composed of fundamentalist elements.

Reports from the intelligence operatives showed that Ombra Amelil Kato, former base commander of the MILF who led the attacks on Christian communities in 2008, have formed the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) to protest his relief as 10th base commander of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces.

Kato, a foreign trained guerrilla leader, led in the attacks in eight towns in North Cotabato after the Supreme Court nullified the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain which would have given the MILF supervision over Muslim-dominated areas in mainland Mindanao.