Bangsamoro Region

6 more BIFF fighters yield in Maguindanao

By Ali G. Macabalang

COTABATO CITY: While the military is serving as part of frontline sectors in the fight against coronavirus disease (COVID-19), it has also been pursuing both combat operations and persuasions in the Bangsamoro region’s areas with known presence of terror-bound extremist militants.

Six more BIFF combatants (facing back camera) listening to officials of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion after surrendering on Monday, April 13, in Rajah Buayan town, Maguindnao.(Supplied)

And the simultaneous military offensives and persuasions have resulted to the surrender on April 13 of six guerillas of the Dawla Islamiya-advocating faction of the outlawed Bagsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), according to Lt. Col. Elmer Boogaling, commander of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion.

Boongaling named the six surrendered BIFF combatants as Naldo Babalay, Nashrudin Kanapia, Abil Kusain, Dok Adam, Alamansa Manampad and Antok Pendatun, all guerilla-resident of Barangay Zapakan in Rajah Buayan town, Maguindanao.

Barangay Zapakan is the same area from which 29 BIFF fighters surrendered also to the 33rd Battalion last March 30.

The surrender of the two batches, all members of the BIFF faction of Commander Bungos, brought to more than 100 members of the outlawed group since the launch of sporadic surgical military offensives and joint military-civilian local persuasions in 2017.

The latest 6-man surrendered BIFF batch turned over in two M-14 Armalite rifles, a cal .30 sniper rifle, one cal .50 sniper rifle, and two M-79 grenade launchers, according to Lt. Col. Boongaling.

Bongaling quoted the six surrenderers as sayng that the principal factor in their decision to return to the folds of law was they “envy” to other BIFF members who had yielded earlier and are now “living peacefully and productively with their families.”

“We expect continuous influx of surrenderees (to our battalion) as we sustain our campaign against the terror armed groups in collaboration with the different stakeholders in the area, especially our local leaders,” Boongaling said.

Maguindanao’s Rajah Buayan is the home town of now Agriculture Undersecretary Zamzamin Ampatuan, who has been known for persistent collaboration with military and law enforcement agencies in persuading Moro rebels back to the mainstream. Ampatuan was the elected mayor of the town before President Diterte appointed him early this year.  

Col. Joel Q. Mamon, officer in charge of 601st Infantry Brigade, the mother units of the rrd Battalion, said: “While we face the challenging situation brought about by the pandemic crisis, we also fulfill our duties in sustaining peace and order in the area where we operate.”

“Our desire is to persuade the BIFF members (across Maguindanao), help change their perspective of Islamic tenets and make them peacefully productive citizens,” said Col. Mamon, who had served the Presidential Peace Adviser’s office for over a year. .   

Mamon said all surrendered BIFF fighters would undergo debriefing and processing before the military endorse them to the provincial government of Maguindanao for appropriate livelihood assistance while their firearms were kept at the 33rd IB headquarters for safekeeping and proper disposition. (Ali G. Macabalang/RSP)

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