BIFF not immune from police, AFP actions — GPH peace panel PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 11 October 2013 13:01

Government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer broke her silence the other day on the escalating brigandage by the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, warning the group it is not immune to law enforcement activities of Philippine security authorities.

Ferrer, chair of the GPH panel negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, said in a statement emailed to Zamboanga Times that the BIFF do not even have a single security agreement with government that will prevent the police and military to fight off its persistent harassment of communities in Central Mindanaoo.

Ferrer made the pronouncement just as the 41st   government-MILF exploratory talks were to start in Malaysia.

Ferrer said civilians suffer most from the brunt of the atrocities committed by the group.

The GPH peace panel had recorded 48 BIFF attacks in Central Mindanao from July to September this year alone.

Thousands of villagers, about 90 percent of them ethnic Maguindanaon Muslims, were affected by the attacks the BIFF perpetrated during the period.

Ferrer said the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police both have the discretion on how to deal with the BIFF, but in close coordination with the MILF’s ceasefire committee.

Ferrer said the BIFF is not protected by any of the preliminary security agreements between the government and the MILF that are meant to prevent undue hostilities between rebel and government forces while the peace talks are underway.

Brig. Gen. Ademar Tomaro, commanding officer of the Army’s 602nd Brigade, and North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, had both acknowledged, during a security conference at the capitol in Kidapawan City last week, that the BIFF is now the most serious threat to the safety of local communities in Central Mindanao.

The provincial government and the Army’s 602nd Brigade agreed to strengthen their cooperation against the BIFF..

Tomaro told Daily Zamboanga Times via mobile phone that among the focus of the security cooperation between them and the office of North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza is the safety of power relay installations and strategic stretches of highways straddling through the province.

Tomaro said the governor committed to provide the brigade with periodic updates on security situation in potential flashpoint areas based on validated information from local government units in North Cotabato’s 17 towns and in Kidapawan City, the provincial capital.

“We’re glad Gov. Mendoza assured to help us in detecting unusual movements of armed groups present in our AOR (area of responsibility). We in the military will hardly succeed in pre-empting their (lawless elements’) hostile actions without the help of LGUs,” Tomaro said.

Tomaro, however, said the continuing cooperation between the 602nd Brigade and the PPOC can help forestall attacks by the BIFF.

Tomaro cited as example how local officials and the military helped each other drive away the bandits that simultaneously attacked two weeks ago five farming enclaves in Midsayap town and how soldiers prevented them from getting close to a stretch of a highway connecting the municipalities of Mlang and Matalam three days later.

“Gov. Mendoza’s instruction is for us to coordinate all of our security efforts with the ceasefire committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in keeping with the government’s ceasefire accord with the MILF,” Tomaro said.

Ferrer said the ceasefire between the government and the MILF is still holding with increasing cooperation from both sides to prevent any conflict.

Ferrer announced during Tuesday’s start of the formal talks in Malaysia that the government and MILF ceasefire committees continued to cooperate in preventing untoward incidents and in containing criminal activities.