From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 22): 5 die in Maguindanao clashes between gov't forces, outlawed BIFF
CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao -- Government forces pursuing armed followers of a town mayor tagged as narco-politician killed four armed men in a clash late Monday afternoon in the Maguindanao marshland, the military confirmed Tuesday.
The government side, however, suffered one fatality in the firefight between Army Special Forces and outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Among those killed was a soldier, according to Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., commander of the 6th Infantry Division based in Maguindanao.
Galvez said the Army Special Forces were pursuing a group of outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the borders of Sultan Sumagca (formerly Talitay town) and Datu Anggal Midtimbang towns in Maguindanao when an encounter occurred.
He identified the slain soldier as S/Sgt. Giovanni P. Olimpo, a gunner of M-60 machinegun mounted atop a hovercraft. He was hit in his middle torso and expired at Camp Siongco Hospital here.
“He died serving his country, helping the government carry on its anti-narcotics campaign,” Galvez said of Olimpo who was firing at the armed men positioned along the river bank.
Local officials in Sultan Sumagca confirmed to military authorities that four armed men, belonging to BIFF, were also killed in the encounter.
Galvez said the soldiers form part of a unit hunting down armed followers of Mayor Montassir Sabal of Sultan Sumagca, Maguindanao who was tagged by President Duterte as Maguindanao's narco-politician.
The military was convinced that the BIFF has been coddling armed followers of Mayor Sabal in the Maguindanao marshland.
Monday afternoon’s clash was related to the law enforcement operation against Mayor Sabal and two other local officials on Friday.
Colonel Markton Abo, speaking for the 6th ID, said the military and the police are hunting down an undetermined number of Mayor Sabal’s heavily armed followers.
Sabal who has been missing since September, was named by President Rodrigo Duterte as among the Maguindanao’s narco-politicians.
Government forces raided his home in Barangay Poblacion, Sultan Sumagca town but missed him.
Policemen and soldiers, backed by armored personnel carriers and helicopter gunships, arrested on Friday two of Sabal’s armed followers and seized seven huge sachets of "shabu" or methamphetamine hydrochloride and three high powered guns.
Mayor Sabal has not reported to office since September while is brother, Vice Mayor Abdul Wahab Sabal, was arrested for possession of guns and explosives.