North Cotabato -- Military forces here have been deployed to the periphery of
this town after villagers saw armed men in the borders of Maguindanao and North Cotabato Wednesday.
Capt. Calvin Macatangay, spokesperson of the military’s 602nd brigade based in Carmen, North Cotabato, said residents of Barangay Kabasalan, a villager bordering with Sultan sa Barongis and Mamasapano towns in Maguindanao, reported to 7th Infantry Battalion personnel about sightings of armed men.
Macatangay said the armed group belonged to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and part of the lawless group that clashed last January 25 with the PNP Special Action Force.
”We believe they belonged to BIFF, led by commander Karialan, we were told the MILF wanted to host a dialogue in the area but Karialan allegedly opposed and he sent troops,” Macatangay said.
Abu Misri Mama, BIFF spokesperson, admitted that the group of Karialan was in Barangay Kabasan, Pikit.
Capt. Joanne Petinglay, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, said the military is ready to respond should the BIFF harass communities.
”We have deployed ample Army personnel backed by military hardware around the marshland,” Petinglay said.
The Army spokesperson also said that normalcy has slowly restored in Maguindanao following the January 25 debacle.
”But we remained on alert,” she said.