COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/21 February) – The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) on Friday rejected calls by government to surrender all firearms taken from the police commandos who died in a clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25.
“We will never return the firearms we recovered…it’s like in cockfighting that a winner will take home the loser’s cock,” Abu Misry Mama, speaking for the BIFF, said in jest.
He said the military or police would do the same thing had the situation been reversed.
Forty-four members of the police Special Action Force (SAF) were killed in the Jan. 25 encounter against Moro rebels in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano against terror suspect Zulkipli bin Hir alias Marwan.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front said it lost 18 fighters in the clash which it blamed on the lack of coordination between the rebel group and government forces. At least four civilians also died in the clash.
Claiming the BIFF seized at least a dozen assorted firearms from the SAF, Mama said they will use the guns to defend themselves against government forces and the rival MILF.
The BIFF broke away from the MILF over differences on the conduct of the peace talks with government.
“We recovered the guns in victorious battle, we did not borrow it that we are obliged to return,” he said.
He claimed his group seized two M-16 rifles with M-203 grenade launchers, four Armalite rifles, one long Bushmaster M-4 rifle and a recoilless rifle.
On Wednesday, the MILF returned 18 firearms its fighters recovered from the slain SAF commandos, in a ceremony at the 6th Infantry Division in Awang, Maguindanao. (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)