Army denies, points to BIFF as behind burning of houses in Maguindanao PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 11:53

The military on Monday denied allegations some of its soldiers torched civilian houses at the height of the offensive against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao.

Colonel Dickson Hermoso, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division, said no civilian houses were hit by air assets of the military “because it was precise and accurate.”

“We are sad there were houses burned during the operation but our policy is very strict, civilians should be spared,” Hermoso said, adding that they have intelligence reports showing that BIFF torched houses so the civilians would blame the Army.

Nevertheless, Hermoso urged civilians to submit evidences if soldiers were involved in torching houses.

He explained that there were indeed houses burned during the operation but these were within the BIFF camp in Barangay Ganta, Datu Shariff Saydona, Maguindanao.

“Those hit by rockets from MG-520 attack helicopters were bunkers and shanties within the BIFF camp, including its bomb making factory and main headquarters,” Hermoso said.

Earlier, a Moro woman told humanitarian teams that her house was among those they found burned after the operation was terminated.

Quoting another relative, the woman said those responsible were men in fatigue uniforms.

“The BIFF also use practically the same fatigue uniforms as our soldiers,” Hermoso explained, stressing civilians saw the burning from a distance so they could hardly determine who are soldiers and who are BIFF.

“As far as the military is concerned, we do not burn civilian houses, that is a taboo for soldiers,” Hermoso explained.

The 6th ID spokesperson also reported that BIFF forces attempted to topple down one of the steel towers of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) by planting bombs at the foot of the facility.

“Three IEDs were planted at the three foundation of steel tower and exploded at about 8:45 p.m. but it did not damage the facility,” he said.

The 6th ID spokesperson also said the BIFF could be regrouping to launch more attacks on civilian communities.

“That is a possibility but the Army and the police have been alerted and more checkpoints were set up to prevent BIFF from sowing terror,” he said.

Hermoso also appealed to the public to help government authorities prevent BIFF from planting bombs.

“We cannot be in all places at all times, Maguindanao is very big and very wide, we need the public support,” he said.