PIKIT, North Cotabato (MindaNews/26 Feb) – The military has stepped up its security measures in North Cotabato and Maguindanao following a directive from Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Gregorio Catapang for an all-out offensive against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
Public vehicles like buses and vans and even private vehicles passing by checkpoints along the highway in North Cotabato were subjected to strict inspection.
In Barangay Pagangan, Aleosan town in North Cotabato, male passengers of a Davao City-bound Weena bus were politely asked to disembark and frisked while soldiers checked the bags inside the vehicle.
“Pasensya lang po, inspection lang para sa atin din pong lahat ito (Please bear with us in this inspection process, this is for our safety),” a soldier told the passengers.
The Army expected the BIFF to hit targets along the highways of North Cotabato and Maguindanao.
Military authorities anticipated the BIFF to carry out bombings against civilian targets as diversionary tactics.
Last week, BIFF spokesperson Abu Misry Mama threatened to attack the North Cotabato provincial capitol and Kidapawan City.
“We seek the public’s patience as our troops check on public transport,” Capt. Joanne Petinglay, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson said.
Petinglay also urged the public to provide the Army and the police information about the presence of suspicious persons or things in their communities. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)