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 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
"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
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.