Wednesday May, 22 2024 01:42:22 AM

PH flag now flies in former BIFF bailiwick

Local News • 03:10 AM Fri Apr 8, 2016
Ferdinandh Cabrera

DATU SALIBO, Maguindanao – The Philippine flag is now proudly flying in a remote village that has been, for years, under the control of outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), military and local officials said.On Wednesday morning, military officials of the 6th Infantry Division led by Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan and Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Toto Mangudadatu, led the flag raising ceremonies and the declaration of Barangay Tee and nearby communities as peace zones.But the BIFF, in a last ditch efforts, tried to prevent the flag raising program by firing shots toward the military and local officials who also escorted displaced families back to their respective villages.Barangay Tee was the site of bloody skirmishes between the military and BIFF since February 5. Fighting ended last month.It was in this village that the Army lost five infantrymen and suffered about 30 injured combatants. Villagers claimed more than 50 BIFF were killed but were hurriedly buried by their comrades in accordance with Islamic tradition.A series of gun fire greeted the officials from across the river, still part of Barangay Tee but military drove them away deep into the marshland.A 30-minute exchange of gun fires ensued but nobody was reported injured, according to Colonel Lito Sobejana, 601st Infantry Brigade commander who has jurisdiction over Maguidnanao’s second district. We work with the provincial government to ensure that people here are safe, free from harassment and lawlessness and the dredging project is completed to save you from floods when rainy season comes,” Pangilinan told residents.Mangudadatu, meanwhile, justified the entry of government forces in the communities, saying all the government wants is to ensure people have something to eat and they live peacefully. I still believe education of our people here is paramount, it will bring them out of poverty,” Mangudadatu said in Filipino.While military and government officials declared it captured and has taken control over Barangay Tee, Abu Misry Mama, BIFF spokesperson laughed off such claim.Mama vowed the BIFF will continue to attack government forces as long as they are there. Peace will only reign in this community if the soldiers are not here,” he added.About 9,104 families have returned to their communities in five towns affected by armed hostilities. They come from the towns of Datu Salibo, Guindulungan, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Talayan and Shariff Saydona.The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao-Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team (ARMM-HEART), relief distributions to returning families were carried out by the Phillipine National Red Cross in compliance with the Omnibus Election Code banning local officials and social welfare offices to distribute relief assistance to victims of calamities during the campaign period. (Ferdinand Cabrera)

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