Tuesday Sep, 29 2020 12:51:30 PM

Radjah Buayan town off limits to local ISIS blocs

Mindanao Peace Process • 17:30 PM Fri Sep 27, 2019
719
By: 
John M. Unson
Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana and Bangsamoro regional officials at the sideline of their security meeting in Cotabato City. (John Unson)

MAGUINDANAO --- There is a town in this province whose residents, the police and Army had cleared from Islamic State-inspired militants through concerted security efforts never ever initiated before.

Rajah Buayan Mayor Zamzamin Ampatuan reported during a security conference here Thursday that credit for the feat has to go to his constituents ---displaced many times over in previous years by incursions by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters --- for having pooled their efforts together to stop members of the group from roaming around their barangays.

Ampatuan told officials of the Bangsamoro Regional Peace and Order Council, among them Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana of the Western Mindanao Command and Major Gen. Diosadado Carreon of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, that Rajah Buayan now is totally from BIFF presence.

“While we can’t say that our municipality is  already absolutely `drug-cleared,’ we can brag about its being `BIFF-cleared’ now, something achieved through community support to the pacification efforts of the military and the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Ampatuan said.

He said it was for an attempt early this year by the BIFF to overrun a detachment of 22 soldiers in Rajah Buayan that community leaders agreed to help clear their barangays from local BIFF forces.

Local residents and members of the 106th Base Command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has a current peace overture with Malacañang, helped each other thwart the attack on the Army detachment.

“Not a single villager has left to evacuate. They stayed around and held the line,” Ampatuan said.

He said BIFF forces relocated to areas outside of the municipality after the incident and have not returned since.

The RPOC meeting at the BARMM capitol in Cotabato City on Thursday was presided over by Bangsamoro Natural Resources Minister Abdulraof Macacua.

In a briefing during the four-hour meeting, WestMinCom officials said Maguindanao and Sulu remain as BARMM’s most troubled areas due to the presence of hundreds of BIFF and Abu Sayyaf terrorists in the two provinces, respectively.

Sobejana said local officials and community leaders must cooperate with the security efforts of Malacañang in the two areas to weaken local terror groups operating in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

“We can take a cue from the examples of local government units with domestic security campaigns that are now gaining headway,” Sobejana said.

Police and military officials present in the RPOC meeting told reporters they were fascinated with the security briefing by the provincial government of the now markedly peaceful Basilan province, a former bastion of the Abu Sayyaf. 

Col. Jose Narciso of the Army's 601st Brigade said the presentation, facilitated by the office of Basilan Gov. Jim Salliman through personnel of the provincial office of the BARMM Ministry of the Interior and Local Government, clearly  depicted how more than 200 Abu Sayyaf members in the province have returned to the fold of law in recent years through the intercession of provincial and municipal officials.

Narciso said the seven-minute presentation also showed how outsiders have lately been frequenting Basilan’s white sand beaches, a tacit indication that there is now peace in the island province.

BARMM Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo said the Bangsamoro government will soon embark on a special program, “Tugon,” or Tulong ng Gobyerno sa Nangangailangan, that can help reintroduce to mainstream communities reforming members of the BIFF and the Abu Sayyaf.

Thursday’s meeting of the RPOC at the BARMM capitol in Cotabato City was presided over by Bangsamoro Natural Resources Minister Abdulraof Macacua.

 

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