Sunday Sep, 19 2021 09:08:09 AM

11 BIFF yield to Army in Maguindanao

Mindanao Peace Process • 23:30 PM Tue Jul 27, 2021
Edwin O. Fernandez
BIFF fighters yield to Army in Maguindanao with their high powered guns. (Army photo)

AMPATUAN, Maguindanao  – Eleven outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) have separately surrendered voluntarily on separate occasions to the Army units under the First Mechanized Infantry Brigade based in Maguindanao.

On Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m., Lt. Colonel Cresencio Sanchez, 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion commander, presented the four BIFF fighters during ceremonies witnessed by Mayor Marop Ampatuan of Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao.

Lt. Colonel Sanchez presented the four BIFF members to Colonel Pedro Balisi, commander of 1st 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade during ceremonies held at brigade headquarters in Barangay Kamasi, Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

“These former violent extremists are under the Bungos Faction of the BIFF operating in the boundaries of the commonly known SPMS Box in Maguindanao,” Lt. Colonel Sanchez said.

SPMS box is a military term for the adjoining towns of Shariff Aguak, Pagatin (Datu Saudi Ampatuan town), Mamasapano and Shariff Saydona Mustapha, all in Maguinanao.

“They signified their intention to return to the fold of law because they were already exhausted for eluding government forces,” Lt. Colonel Sanchez said.

The former extremists turned in crew-served weapon and various high-powered firearms composed of one US Cal .50HB machine gun, one Carbine rifle, Armalite rifle with M203 grenade launcher, one Cal. 30 Garand rifle, one home-made 7.62mm sniper rifle.

“This is another milestone in winning the peace in the province of Maguindanao, as we witnessed the return of our BIFF brothers to the government and live normal lives in the community,” Lt. Colonel Sanchez said.

Colonel Balisi lauded the efforts of the 1st Mechanized Infantry (Lakan) Battalion and the LGU of Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao for convincing the former violent extremists to surrender to the government.

Specifically, Col Balisi Jr lauded Mayor Amaptuan for his unwavering support to the military’s campaign against violent extremists.

Colonel Balisi encouraged the other members of the BIFF to return to the fold of law for them to live a better life with their family.

“You did the right thing since starting today, the Army will no longer run after you because you are no longer wanted persons,” Colonel Balisi told the returnees.

“You can now live peacefully and productively you’re your loved ones,” he added.

Mayor Ampatuan welcomed the former BIFF combatants, extending initial cash and rice assistance to the group.

He stressed that the Shariff Aguak LGU is ready to help those who wanted to surrender and restart a new life with their families.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m., Colonel Balisi also welcomed seven BIFF members who separately surrendered to the Army’s Second Mechanized Infantry Battalion in Datu Anggal Midtimbang town, also in Maguindanao.

The seven were convinced by local officials to surrender to the Army and avail of government’s program for former combatants.

The former BIFF fighters were operating in the mountains of Datu Anggal Midtimbang.

Colonel Balisi said the former BIFF turned over two M14 Rifles, one M16 Rifle, one homemade cal .50 Barret sniper rifle, a Garand Rifle, an M79 Grenade Launcher, a rocket propelled grenade launcher and ammunition.

“I commend you for choosing the right path. Go to your loved ones and live normal lives,” Colonel Balisi told the former rebels.

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