MANILA – The Philippine military has launched an offensive operation against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) following the signing of the fourth and final annex of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the Army's 6th Infantry Division, said the offensive operations were carried out in parts of Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Datu Piang, and Sultan sa Barongis in Maguindanao and Pikit in North Cotabato.
Hermoso said joint police and military forces were tasked to serve arrest warrants against members of the BIFF, a breakaway group of the MILF which is against the peace talks.
The military official said the arrest warrants were in connection with the extortion activities of the BIFF, the beheading of a farmer, and the abduction of teachers, all in North Cotabato, among others.
Hermoso said the atrocities committed by the BIFF were so many that the arrest warrants could already fill a Ford Fiera jeep.
He said the MILF did not take part in the operations but it guaranteed the government forces that it will prevent violence from spilling into areas not controlled by the BIFF.
In an earlier interview, Hermoso said the BIFF is likely to sow violence following the breakthrough in the peace talks between the MILF and the Philippine government.
But Hermoso said the government is ready for any attack by the BIFF.
“They are being contained so that these BIFF men would not enter MILF communities,” he said.
“We coordinating with the appropriate government agencies to persuade this group not to resort to violence because it will displace civilians, cause joblessness, and threaten away investors,” he added. - report from Edwin Sevidal, dzMM