TWO soldiers were shot to death on Wednesday by alleged members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) as they stepped out of a church in Datu Piang, Maguindanao.
Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID), identified the victims as Private Rex Limpahan and Private Edward Nick Baes who both belong to the 62nd Division Recon Company.
Hermoso said the two soldiers went to church to pray and light a candle as one of them was celebrating a birthday.
“The soldiers went to church to light candles to thank the Lord as one of them is celebrating his birthday,” Hermoso said.
He said the two soldiers were in athletic uniforms and unarmed when they were peppered by .45 caliber and 9mm bullets by BIFF members who were riding in tandem.
The BIFF is a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) founded by Ameril Umbra Kato, former commander of the MILF’s 105th base command.
The BIFF has resorted to terroristic and destabilization activities, attacking both civilian and military and engaging soldiers in firefights, the latest was on September 11 that resulted to the death of 10 rebels and two soldiers.
On the eve of Ramadan, the most holy month of Muslims, BIFF elements fired a rifle-propelled grenade to a restaurant in Cotabato City, leaving one civilian dead and three others injured.
Before the Cotabato City bombing, the BIFF also engaged elements of the 6ID in two separate encounters that left one junior officer and four enlisted personnel dead.