THE bomb factory set up by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao is bigger than the fireworks industry in Bocaue, Bulacan, according to Armed Forces chief Gregorio Pio Catapang.
Catapang said the BIFF turned the so-called SPMS box into a terrorist haven. SPMS refers to the towns and municipalities of Salvu, Pagatin, Mamasapano and Shariff Aguak in Maguindanao.
The town of Mamasapano was the site of a deadly encounter between police commandos and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and BIFF fighters in January.
The military described the SPMS box as “no man’s land.”
The military uncovered the BIFF’s bomb “factory” while soldiers were pursuing the rebels early this month. Catapang said the rebels have been making improvised explosives device or IEDs.
“Now the PNP [Philippine National Police] and AFP and everybody are conscious that they (BIFF) have turned that place into a terrorist haven,” Catapang told reporters in an interview following the anniversary celebration of the Philippine Army on Monday.
“And they have turned that place into an IED factory haven, mas sobra pa sa Bocaue ang ginawa nila,” he added.
Catapang said government troops will clear the SPMS areas and he expressed hopes that the BIFF will be crushed by June this year.
“Those who are [living]within the SPMS box we will allow them to return tapos ico-cordone na namin para hindi na mapasukan ng BIFF and lawless elements and terrorists,” he said.
Catapang added that the military will continue to hunt down Filipino bomb-maker Abdul Basit Usman and other terrorists being coddled by the BIFF.