From the Manila Bulletin (Feb 4): BIFF vows more attacks
Aquino orders DOJ to conduct parallel probe of SAF 44 carnage
The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) yesterday warned of more attacks and called on residents to stay away from military and police outposts or checkpoints in Maguindanao.
Should the BIFF make good its threat, Col. Restituto Padilla, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman, said the government is ready to stop them.
“We are not doing any offensive… if they (BIFF) will initiate anything that will unduly disturb peace in the area, the government will act with all its might to stop them,” Padilla said.
BIFF spokesman Abu Misry Mama bared the planned attacks in an interview with Manila Bulletin Monday afternoon.
“To all civilians, Christians or Muslims, living near military checkpoints, leave now because 100 percent we will launch attacks against them. Leave now so you won’t be caught in crossfire,” Misry Mama warned.
While the BIFF warns of fresh attacks, Abul Khayr Alonto, elected chairman of the surviving original members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) central committee, said the country cannot afford another wide-scale armed conflict in Mindanao as it will have disastrous effects.
“Those who call for all-out-war (after the Mamasapano incident) are those who in their nightmares even don’t know the situation of war,” he said.
As this developed, President Aquino has ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct a parallel probe on the SAF 44 carnage. Earlier, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) formed a Board of Inquiry (BOI), composed of police generals, to investigate the massacre.
Yesterday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima announced the creation of a joint National Prosecution Service (NPS) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) team, that will “undertake case build-up” for the possible filing of criminal charges against those responsible for the encounter, which has threatened to derail the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the overall peace negotiation between the government and the MILF.
She, however, quickly denied an online report that the DOJ was already set to file criminal charges against 13 MILF commanders, and said that the fact-finding team needed to ascertain the full facts surrounding the whole incident, including the identification of perpetrators.
“What I can confirm today is indeed the instruction of the President to the DOJ to undertake case build-up and prepare the appropriate or necessary criminal charges against those maybe identified or determined to be responsible doon sa nangyari,” De Lima told reporters in an ambush interview.
READY FOR WAR
Currently, Misry Mama said BIFF forces are on standby in their respective areas ready to launch the attacks.
If attacked by government forces, the BIFF is ready to defend itself, Misry Mama added.
He also confirmed the movement of BIFF forces along Cotabato-General Santos City National Highway two days ago that nearly led to a clash with the military.
But Misry Mama clarified that the BIFF movement was not in preparation for an attack, saying the rebel forces only securing some of BIFF top leaders who were invited to attend a feast in Talayan area.
The clash was averted when the soldiers opted to leave the area.
“A firefight would have ensued had the military did not leave the area,” Misry Mama said.
INDEPENDENT PROBE PRESSED
The BIFF also vowed not to participate in any investigation that would be conducted by the government in connection with the massacre of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos of the Philippine National Police (PNP) last January 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
Misry Mama said his group will only participate in an investigation that will be conducted by a third party composed of civilians that would act as independent investigation body.
He was referring to investigations being conducted by the government following the clash between the PNP-SAF on one hand and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the BIFF.
“We will not subject ourselves to investigation. If the military enters enter here to investigate, we will shoot them,” he said.
“We are okay if civilians will investigate,” Misry Mama said.
He also confirmed that the SAF operation was really meant to get Zulkilfi bin Hir alias Marwan and Abdul Basit Usman because of the big bounty offered by the United States for his capture. He, however, denied coddling the two wanted men.
Misry Mama also said that the BIFF received reports that an American was killed during the Mamasapano carnage.
“May report sa amin na may namatay na puti kasama ng SAF (We received report that a male Caucasian was killed during the encounter. He was with SAF,” he stressed.
He said the presence of Americans in the Mindanao is to the advantage of BIFF as they will no longer have to go the United State to wage war against them.
“It’s good that the Americans are here. We will fight against them here. We need not spend money to go to America and fight them there,” he said.