COTABATO CITY: The military here has branded today as absurd and lousy propaganda the claim of a renegade Moro rebels that soldiers seized a father and son tandem in Datu Unsay, Maguindanao last week.
Col. Dickson Hermoso, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, said Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) spokesperson Abu Misry Mama earlier accused soldiers belonging to the 45th Infantry Battalion of abducting Mohamad “Madz” Abdulkarim and his son, Mehan Mohammad, 14, at an Army checkpoint in Datu Unsay, Maguindanao.
Mama said the attack on a banana plantation in Tulunan, North Cotabato by BIFF members was triggered by the supposed abduction. Mama said the father was a BIFF member.
”This is plain and simple propaganda,” Hermoso told reporters. “Sadly, they are doing it during the fasting month of Ramadhan.”
Hermoso recalled that during last year’s Ramadhan, the BIFF carried simultaneous attacks against military and police installations in Maguindanao’s second district, killing civilians and soldiers.
”Now they did it again,” Hermoso said.
A BIFF member was killed in a clash with government forces after they attacked the Delinanas banana plantation in North Cotabato on July 13.
Senior Inspector Ronnie Cordero, Tulunan police chief, said about 30 heavily armed BIFF stormed the packing house of Delinanas banana plantation in Barangay Dungos, Tulunan while another band of guerrillas torched about PHP30 million worth of equipment.
Cordero said it was the second time the BIFF harassed the banana firm. In February, the same group harassed Delinanas banana firm.
Mama said they were actually after the military unit stationed in the plantation because one of BIFF members and his son were abducted by the military in nearby Datu Unsay, Maguindanao.
Mama said the father and the son, residents of Barangay Dapiawan, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao, remained missing after they were last seen being accosted by soldiers at a highway checkpoint.
Hermoso said the military never abduct civilians and non-combatants in its area of operation.
He added that the BIFF, a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), is resorting to propaganda following successful military operations that led to the arrest of some of its members and death of BIFF in Army offensives in Maguindanao and Datu Shariff Saydona.
The military also seized high powered firearms in the house of Basit Usman, a suspected international terrorist, and his bomb-making factory in Barangay Gang, Shariff Saydona last month.
”The BIFF is using even the social media in its propaganda and the public know the real story,” he said, adding that the military continues to remain on alert during the fasting month and intensifying its intelligence operations. PNA