Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has expressed his willingness to talk to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in his bid to stop the spate of bombings that already killed more than 10 civilians in Mindanao.
“I feel for the families of the victims. I am sad. Maawa na lang kayo sa kapwa natin tao (be compassionate to our fellow Filipinos),” he said.
The military last week blamed the BIFF, a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, for the December 9 attack on the Rural Transit bus, which killed 10 people, including five students of the Central Mindanao University. In November, a bomb also exploded in another Rural Transit bus injuring four people. Two other explosions were reported in the towns of Kabacan and M’lang in North Cotabato killing several people. These bombings, according to military experts, carry the BIFF signature.
Duterte said the BIFF fighters should tackle the Philippine soldiers and spare innocent civilians who have nothing to do with their issues. He is also worried that the bombings may spill over to Davao City.
“I will be short of being too optimistic about everything when all around Mindanao is exploding. I said I will not count it entirely out of the picture, but I can plead to them to stop. If I can do something, if they want to talk, I am willing to go there and talk to them,” he said.
An officer of the BIFF earlier denied that the group is involved in the bomb attacks saying they stand to gain nothing from doing it.
The Philippine National Police was not convinced though. It filed multiple murder and frustrated murder complaints against Macmod Manibpil, a suspected BIFF fighter.
Several civic and non-government organizations have condemned the bombings. Malacañang has also ordered the police to probe the incident and to make sure that the suspects are charged in court.
The American Government also condemned the incident as US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg stressed the need for cooperation in eradicating terror.