CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao, Feb. 26 — Since when a military covert operation was announced for public and media consumption?
This is one for the record when an army regional spokesperson said Wednesday the Army’s 6th Infantry Division has started covert operations against outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Capt. Joann Petinglay, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, said the directive of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gregorio Catapang was clear.
Catapang earlier directed Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero to spearhead the “all-out war” against the BIFF which mostly operates in Maguindanao and North Cotabato.
“We appeal to the civilian populace in areas where the BIFF operates to help the military neutralize this terrorist group. We are ready to use the military might.” Petinglay said in a radio interview.
The BIFF is composed of about 1,000 armed men who are former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels that broke away in 2008 to push for independence in Southern Philippines.
It recently figured in a clash with MILF forces in the borders of Maguindanao and North Cotabato and occupied at least 10 outskirt villages that forced the dislocation of about 20,000 civilians.
The MILF, through the joint ceasefire committees of the government and the MILF, sought military assistance in flushing out the BIFF.
On Saturday and Sunday, the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion launched artillery attacks against the BIFF, forcing them to abandon occupied communities and fled deep into the Maguindanao marshland.
BIFF spokesperson Abu Misri Mama said his group was not afraid of the Army’s “all-out war,” saying the BIFF will fight to the last drop of their blood through guerilla offensive.