BIFF now only has 80 armed members remaining, says Army commander

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 28 July) – A military commander pursuing terror groups operating in Maguindanao and nearby communities said that only around 80 armed members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) are left after many of them had surrendered to authorities and after the relentless operations conducted until this moment.

The BIFF surrenderers before the press conference at Camp Siongco. Photo courtesy of the 1st Mechanized Brigade / Philippine Army

Col. Pedro Balisi Jr., commander of the 1st Mechanized Brigade operating in Liguasan Marsh and nearby communities in Maguindanao, said that efforts, with the help of the communities, to convince BIFF members to surrender and the military’s focused operations have gained ground.

He said that in their latest monitoring, the BIFF’s strength has weakened considerably.

Balisi said that even at this moment, military troops are moving to capture or dismantle the BIFF. But he did not disclosed the exact location of the operation.

Datu Piang Mayor Victor Samama confirmed that the roaring huge explosions and gunfire at night in his municipality since last week are military activities against the BIFF.

Last December, the BIFF has managed to penetrate the town center of Datu Piang and traded fire with the military and police force. They burned a newly donated police car.

Today, 11 more members of BIFF, led by certain Kumander Bin Ladin under the wing of Bungos group and has operational commands in the municipalities of Datu Anggal Midtimbang and Shariff Aguak, have yielded to the 6th Infantry “Kampilan” Division, bringing with them high-powered firearms.

These include an old model of a caliber .50 anti-aircraft machine gun, caliber .30 machine gun, M-203 grenade launcher, a sniper rifle, RPG launcher, Garand rifles, carbines and several ammunitions.

Representatives from Datu Anggal Midtimbang and Shariff Aguak, led by former Mayor Nathaniel Midtimbang and Shariff Aguak administrator Anwar Emblawa, promised during the turnover ceremony that they will assist in the transformation of the surrenderers.

They noted that the provincial government is also giving out farm tractors under the Agila-Haven program.

Balisi said this development only proves that “the security landscape in the area is changing” and that they were able to contain the momentum of the terror groups.

The surrenderers were not around during the press conference after they reportedly requested to not be exposed to the media and the public, but they had a photo session with the military inside the camp.

Maj. Gen. Juvemax Uy, commander of Joint Task Force Central, lauded the efforts made by his men and the cooperation made by local government units to convince the rebels to go back to the folds of the government and live normal lives. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews)