From the Philippine Star (Jul 23): Tension still high in Maguindanao villages after BIFF attacks
A worker of the Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team examines one of the 10 villagers trapped and wounded in Monday's crossfire between soldiers and members of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters at the border of Maguindanao's Datu Piang and Shariff Saidona towns. JOHN UNSON
Three of the 10 civilians wounded in Monday’s crossfire between soldiers and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) have been evacuated to a hospital while the rest refused to leave their homes for fear of being tagged as bandits by the military.
Laisa Alamia, executive secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said workers of the ARMM’s Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team (HEART) managed to convince three of the injured civilians to seek medical attention at a hospital in Cotabato City.
HEART workers on Tuesday facilitated the return of Andiale Gumandal, 35; Mohamidin Umal, 17; and Kingaw Umal, 40 to their village at the border of Maguindanao’s Datu Piang and Shariff Saidona towns, scene of Monday’s deadly BIFF-Army encounters.
The HEART said that the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has an office in Cotabato City, paid for the hospital bills of the three villagers.
The office of the ARMM Regional Health Secretary Kadil Sinolinding Jr. provided the injured civilians with free pain relievers and antibiotics for their wounds, according to the HEART.
Tension remained high in the surroundings of the adjoining villages of Barangay Damablas in Datu Piang town and Barangay Ganta in Shariff Saidona, since Monday’s clash.
The firefights erupted when BIFF bandits surrounded Army positions in the area.
Local government units in Maguindanao are bracing for possible diversionary attacks by the other members of the BIFF while the attackers of the Army detachments are being pursued by the military.
Meanwhile, a group of BIFF bandits had planted a powerful roadside bomb along a farm-to-market road in nearby Barangay Katiku in President Quirino town in Sultan Kudarat province.
The explosive, fashioned from a live 81 millimeter mortar projectile rigged with a battery-operated blasting mechanism attached to a mobile phone, was promptly deactivated by Army bomb experts after learning of its presence in the area from farmers.
BGen Carlito Galvez Jr of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) assumed the GPH CCCH Chairmanship following a formal Turn Over Ceremony held at the 6th Infantry Division, Philippine Army Headquarters at Camp Siongco in Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.
Gen Galvez replaced BGen Edmundo Pangilinan AFP who is now the Commanding General of the 6th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.
Currently, Galvez is also the Commander of the 104th Brigade of the Philippine Army that is based in the province of Basilan. Buts his replacement in the brigade command will be appointed soon.
Gen Pangilinan served close to five months before taking the stewardship of the 6th Infantry Kampilan Division.
The MILF CCCH headed by its Chairman Abbas Salung who is also from the province of Basilan, and the Malaysia – led International Monitoring Team (IMT) graced the turnover program which culminated with the breaking of the Fasting tendered by the GPH CCCH and the 6th ID, Philippine Army.
Representatives from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) – Cotabato City Office, Nonviolent Peaceforce, United Nation High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) – Cotabato City Office, and mass media were also in attendance.
Both Gen Pangilinan and Gen Galvez reiterated the commitment of the government on the primacy of the ceasefire accord and the success of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) which the GPH and MILF Peace Negotiating Panels signed last March 27, 2014 at Malacanang Palace.
The GPH CCCH Chairmanship lineage is as follows, MGen Jose Torrelavega AFP (1999 – 2000), MGen Romeo Calizo AFP (2000 – 2003), LTGen Rodolfo Garcia AFP (2003 – 2004), BGen Alexander Yano AFP (2004 – 2005), BGen Ramon Santos AFP (2005 – 2007), BGen Edgardo Gurrea AFP (2007 – 2008), MGen Reynaldo Sealana AFP (2008 – 2011), MGen Rey Ardo AFP (Jan – May 2011), BGen Ariel Bernardo (2011 – 2012), BGen Gilberto Jose Roa AFP (April 2012 – March 2013), BGen Cesar Dionisio Sedillo Jr AFP (April 2013 – April 2014), and BGen Edmundo Pangilinan AFP (April 2014 – July 2014), and BGen Carlito Galvez Jr AFP (incumbent).