Tuesday, February 18, 2014

No reports yet of JIs, BIFF fighters in Cagayan De Oro -- AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 18): No reports yet of JIs, BIFF fighters in Cagayan De Oro -- AFP

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday said it is still to receive reports confirming the presence of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) members and "Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters" (BIFF) in Cagayan De Oro.

"We have no information on that but we still monitor (the area for) presence and the possibility (of) other threat groups but as of now, they have not been active," said AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala.

Zagala also said the successful peace process between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) could be a factor in the diminishing foreign terror threat.

"That's a possibility (as) the Moro Islamic Liberation Front saw the sincerity of the government (and) they probably do not see the need anymore for violent actions, and the best way to solve our problems in the conflict areas is through peace process and dialogue," he said.

But despite this negative report, Zagala said the military will continue to cooperate with the Philippine National Police (PNP) in its law enforcement operations.

"We will do our duty by preventing any peace spoiler to undertake (any) plan or terroristic act that (may) put harm to our people and derail the peace process," he stressed.

He also added that the AFP, for the past decade, has significantly diminished the capabilities of the JIs and the Rajah Solaiman Movement through offensive operations.

But the AFP public affairs office chief said this does no mean that they are relaxing their guard.

"Lately, there are renewal of the worldwide Islamic movement that we are also monitoring, I cannot give you the details regarding this movement which we call 'Black Flag'," he said.

"We are closely monitoring them and making sure that they do not carry out any of their plan of terroristic action. Although terrorism is within our midst, we, in partnership with the PNP, are doing all we can to prevent any more actions by this group," he added.

When asked for comment on the report that some politicians are sheltering and providing safe havens to the BIFF, the AFP public affairs chief said they are still to receive such information.

Zagala also dismissed reports that the BIFF are in a position of strength.

"They have splintered into many groups, we have occupied their camps for them to say they are in the position of strength, I don't think so (as) they are still in the run," he said.

And once these BIFF remnants are located, Zagala said the AFP will again conduct "stability operations" against these groups to ensure that they will not be able to target innocent communities again.


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