THE military will suspend for three days its all-out offensive against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) to give way to graduation ceremonies in Maguindanao.
But military presence will still be visible as soldiers will provide security to these school rites, according to Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Public Affairs Office.
Cabunoc said as agreed upon during the peace and order council meeting, the offensive will be suspended on March 26, 27 and 28.
However, the official said law enforcement operations against terrorists will continue in areas that are far from places where graduation rites are held.
“The soldiers will provide security in schools holding graduation ceremonies, law enforcement operations against the terrorists will go on,” Cabunoc told reporters.
According to him, these areas in Maguindanao have been cleared of armed groups: Rajah Buayan, Datu Piang, Datu Unsay, Mamasapano and Datu Saudi Ampatuan.
He clarified, however, that in the case of Mamasapano, it is the local government that will officially declare if the area has been cleared of armed men.
Cabunoc described as “tricky” the suspension of the all-out offensive, saying this is not actually a ceasefire.
The official disclosed that there were attempts by the BIFF to get near the camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for “obvious reasons.”
“That’s because they know that we cannot just enter these camps, because we need to coordinate with the MILF. Of course, we are doing everything to prevent them from getting near these camps,” he said.