BIFF vows no attacks as GPH, MILF set resumption of talks

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/28 August) — The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has heeded the appeal of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to refrain from launching offensives against government forces in deference to the scheduled resumption of talks with the Philippine government in Malaysia next month.

The peace negotiation was scheduled to resume in Kuala Lumpur this week but was moved to September in deference to the state funeral for Local Governments Secretary Jesse Robredo.

Abumisry Mama, spokesperson of the BIFF said in a phone interview on Monday night they would heed the request of their former comrades.

“It’s not a big deal, if we can feed a starving cat asking for food why not this simple request of our brothers,” Mama said.

He, however, clarified they were not implementing a ceasefire and had told their forces to maintain a defensive position.

Asked if their gesture of cooperation meant they were going back to the fold of the MILF, he replied: “No way, it won’t really happen.”

Meanwhile, the MILF said it was glad to hear the positive response of the BIFF.
“But we need to be sure. Yet they received and signed our letter brought by our emissary,” MILF spokesperson Von Al Haq said, also in a phone interview on Monday night.
Asked about the possible scenarios had the BIFF rejected their appeal, Al Haq gave no categorical answer except to say that MILF fighters have been positioned close to BIFF forces.
Led by then 105th Base Command chief Ustadz Ameril Umra Kato, the BIFF broke away from the MILF over disagreements on how the peace process with government has fared after the botched Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain.
But Kato’s health deteriorated after he suffered a stroke. Reports said he had passed away, but his followers maintained he is still alive.
The military said the BIFF statement would give a respite to the civilians who were displaced after the rebel group attacked government forces in Maguindanao and North Cotabato a week ago.
“We will just hope the BIFF’s statement is sincere and they really mean it,” Col. Prudencio Asto of the 6th division said.

Asto added they continue to support police operations against the BIFF.
Meanwhile, the BIFF said it is now opening its doors to negotiations with government.

 

“It’s just that nobody came to talk or negotiate with us now,” Mama said. (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)

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