Appeal to feuding MILF, BIFF: Spare civilians

A Mindanaoan solon appealed to  members of the feuding Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) to spare civilians caught in crossfires.

Maguindanao Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu expressed concern for the communities caught in crossfire and appealed to warring members of the two groups to peacefully settle their disagreements

“I am appealing to our fellow brothers, especially to the BIFF, to lay down their weapons and think about the countless civilians that could be affected as they  trade bullets,” Mangudadatu said.

An isolated firefight is ongoing in Maguindanao.

Mangudadatu joined the operatives of the Philippine Army and Philippine National Police (PNP), as well as local government officials from Shariff Saidona, Maguindanao, in closely monitoring the clash.

“I call for sobriety for both groups. Put down your arms, sit down, and engage in meaningful dialogues where you can fully express your sentiments and arrive at an agreement. Decades long war hasn’t solved anything,” he stressed.

Mangudadatu furthered that the war in Maguindanao has become a vicous cycle where sons took over the arms after their fathers and of their father’s father.

“It is high time for BIFF to reintegrate themselves to society and lead fruitful, productive civilian lives like those of the decommissioned MILF members. They (BIFF) too can have the same privilege,” he added.

He also encouraged them to take advantage of the government’s socio-economic programs under the peace agreement signed by the government and the MILF. Moro rebels who enlisted themselves for the decommissioning was given vocational schooling through Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). They can also receive aid packages and cash grants  from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

“Tuwing may namamatay na miyembro na mula sa kahit anong kampo, may namamatay na pangarap. May nawawalan ng ama, anak, kapatid. May mga nauulila at mangungulilang muli. This has been a sad cycle in Maguindanao. I pray for Allah to make us all instrumental in ending this. Let us break this chain together,” he said.

Reports from the Army and police intelligence confirmed that the clash in  Sitio Tinolusan in Barangay Dasawao left seven MILF members killed and four BIFF fighters dead. Three more BIFF members were reported wounded.