Govt troops remain on alert as Maguindanao evacuees return home


CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao: While heavy fighting between government troops and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters have ceased and displaced families started to return home in Maguindanao’s three towns, government troopers stay on alert to ensure remnants of the BIFF remains neutralized, the Army here said Tuesday.

Col. Edgar Gonzales, commanding officer of the Army’s 1st Mechanized Brigade based in Shariff Aguak town, said he deployed personnel in suspected areas of operation of BIFF to thwart terror attacks like planting of explosives that target civilians and military vehicles.

“We are not letting our guards down, we don’t take chances, we should always be one step ahead of them,” he said, adding that the BIFF could use terror attacks after they were neutralized and their camps captured.

Gonzales said experiences in the Maguindanao campaign showed that the BIFF would likely resort to violence against civilians by setting off improvised bombs.

After the fall of its camps Friday, three improvised bombs were planted by the BIFF in Datu Piang, Datu Shariff Saydona, Guindulungan and Datu Paglas, all in Maguindanao.

An IED was recovered by bomb experts planted at the foot of National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) which the Army said was a signature handiwork of the BIFF. It was safely defused.

Gonzales said Army units are now focused on securing relief groups attending to the needs of evacuees returning to their homes.

On Friday, Brig. Gen. Edmund Pangilinan, commander of the Army’s 601st Brigade, led government troops in hoisting the Philippine flag inside the captured camp of BIFF in Barangay Ganta, Shariff Saydona, Maguindanao.

Colonel Dickson Hermoso, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said the military is filing charges against the BIFF for using child warriors in the war against government forces.

Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu and the provincial social welfare office had already distributed about 1,300 food packs for the displaced families while the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) relief agencies distributed food packs and water containers with potable drinking water to prevent diseases among displaced families.

ARMM and Maguindanao governments have been assisting families returning home on Monday after the fighting had ended. PNA


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