'Defending village from BIFF is okay, but arming up is illegal'

Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 23 2016 01:08 AM

MANILA - The 6th Infantry Division (6ID) of the Philippine Army in Central Mindanao said that while it appreciates the Pulahan group's desire to defend their village from attacks by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), it was still illegal, and the "Pulahanes" would have to face the law if they are apprehended.

For Army Captain Joanne Petinglay, spokesperson of the 6ID, good intentions are not enough to justify the illegal possession of firearms, adding that only the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are authorized by law to carry arms.

She said the Pulahan's community will be better served if the leaders would approach the military and explain the threats they perceive, and that the AFP can augment its forces there if necessary.

Major General Edmundo Pangilinan, meanwhile, questioned the number that the group was able to muster, and whether the Pulahan members who appeared before the media came from the same village. 

Pangilinan said the pronouncements made by the group could just be a product of anger following the spate of attacks on civilians on Christmas Eve.

The AFP is conducting an investigation on the group, noting that they will have to be apprehended, and their arms confiscated, if they are ever caught. 

The battle against the BIFF is theirs to fight, said Petinglay of the military. 

An armed group, who introduced themselves as "Pulahanes" or "Red God's Soldiers," said it has taken up arms to protect themselves and the civilians from BIFF attacks.

It was reported last December that some residents have started bringing out weapons for protection.