MILF troops arrest BIFF rebels linked to Datu Paglas tension

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 11 May) – Troops from Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) arrested two suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) under the Karialan faction after they entered an MILF perimeter territory in Barangay Kalumengan, Datu Paglas town in Maguindanao.

Soldiers from the 6th Infantry Division at the boundary of Datu Paglas and Buluan towns in Maguindanao during the tension in the area after sighting of 20 BIFF fighters. MindaNews file photo by FERDINANDH B. CABRERA

But Abdurahim Molilis, administration officer of the MILF’s 109th Base Command, said the two – Nasrullah Abdullah Walingan, 24, and Jerwali Salem Zabel, 32 – claimed they were just delivering food for their comrades.

Seized from the suspects, however, were two improvised explosive devices and one loaded caliber .45 pistol.

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (CIDG-BARMM) is set to file charges of Violation of Republic Act 10591 (Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act) and Republic Act 9516 (on Unlawful Possession, Manufacture, Dealing in, Acquisition or Disposition of Firearms, Ammunition or Explosives).

“They are now on preventive custody and appropriate charges will be filed,” said Maj. Esmael Madin, of the field operating unit of CIDG-BARMM.

The MILF turned over the suspects to the local police through the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH). The police later turned them over to the CIDG-BARMM.

At least 20 members of the BIFF under the Karialan faction were sighted in the market of Datu Paglas town at daybreak Saturday, causing tension in the area and the closure of a portion of the North Cotabato-Maguindanao highway.

Armed confrontation, however, was reportedly averted following a talk between Mayor Abubakar Paglas and the group’s leader, a certain Solaiman, who was former Sangguniang Kabataan chair.

In a radio interview over Brigada, Abu Jehad, spokesperson of the BIFF’s Karialan faction, said they had no plan to launch an attack. He said they went to Datu Paglas to rest as they were still fasting because of Ramadan.

The BIFF, originally led by late Ameril Umbra Kato, is a disgruntled armed group that bolted out of the MILF in 2010 over differences in policies and discontentment on the peace process.

The MILF has entered into an agreement with the Philippine government, which resulted in the creation of the BARMM in 2019.

The BIFF later made links with the Daesh terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The BIFF later split into three factions – the Karialan, BIFF-Bungos faction, and Dawlah Islamiya Mindanao led by Abu Toreife. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)

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