The government panel negotiating peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front called on the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), an MILF splinter group, to take part in the peace process.
This was after a rampage in two Central Mindanao towns last Thursday that left seven farmers dead and dislocated hundreds of innocent villagers.
In a statement, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, head of the government peace panel, asked the BIFF to listen to the plea of their own brothers and sisters to give peace a chance.
“We ask the leaders of the BIFF to reconsider their violent ways and take heed of the people’s desire for peace and normalcy in their lives,” Ferrer said.
At least nine civilians have been killed in the series of attacks launched by suspected BIFF in Central Mindanao, according to reports.
The death toll due to the attacks was at 13 as of Friday afternoon, with four of the fatalities from the BIFF.
“We commiserate with the families of the nine civilians who were summarily executed by the BIFF in separate incidents over the last few days,” Ferrer said.
“The BIFF’s sporadic attacks across the three provinces of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, and North Cotabato — including the firing of grenades at a local chapel and an army detachment, hostage-taking, and the planting of improvised explosives, indicate an attempt to gain momentum for their bid to destabilize the situation in these areas and garner attention for themselves and their flagging cause,” she added.
Government troops were also asked to be on alert and secure the civilians amid the attacks.
“We pray for the safety of our soldiers who, instead of humbly celebrating the holiday season in their remote posts, have been mobilized to prevent the hostile group from wreaking more harm on the populace,” Ferrer added.
“We also pray for strength and the safety of the civilians who find themselves exposed to the danger of ongoing hostilities,” she said.