From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 23): BIFF threat against Duterte downplayed
An Army official has downplayed the threat of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) on the life of President Rodrigo Duterte, saying the group is desperate and has no ground support.
This was the reaction expressed by Eastern Mindanao Command deputy commander and spokesperson on martial law, Brig. Gen. Gilbet Gapay, on the message left by BIFF during their attack in Pigcawayan that their next target is the President.
Gapay said, “That pronouncement of the BIFF is a desperate pronouncement because what happened in Pigcawayan recently was a theoretic retaliation and somehow a diversionary attack resulting from the setbacks.”
Gapay said the BIFF was expecting a big result out of the attack of what they want to achieve to gain attention.
”But it turned out to be otherwise, that’s why noong napahiya na sila, so before they fled they destroyed some schools, classrooms and pictures of our President.
Gapay said the BIFF has suffered major setbacks in their supposedly stronghold Maguindanao, specifically the SPMS box, because forces there have also intensified operations against the BIFF. SPMS stands for the four municipalities of Shariff Aguak, Pigcawayan, Mamasapano and Salibo.
According to Gapay, it is not surprising that President Duterte earned enemies like the BIFF because he has demonstrated political will in governance.
During the Mindanao Hour at Lispher Inn, Davao City Friday, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella underscored the BIFF’s lack of ground support even from Muslim communities.
”The local Muslim community, the Maranaos especially, do not want this. And for whatever reason that they are dealing with this, whether it is personal interest or what, there is no ground support for them.
”I think we need to go back to the fact that really, this is an isolated --- these are isolated groups that are brilliant at media manipulation,” Abella pointed out. Abella told reporters that the BIFF will not succeed.
According to Gapay, BIFF has been contained to their stronghold because the Armed Forces have also complementary operations outside of Marawi and ongoing operations all over Mindanao addressing various terrorist groups, and one of these is BIFF.
”So what happened there is a retaliatory attack and is not connected with the Marawi operations,” Gapay said.
Meanwhile, Abella reported that the number of hostages rescued totaled to 31 while there were 73 trapped civilians also rescued.
The incident also left one soldiers dead, two wounded-in-action from the government side. From the BIFF, six were killed , eight wounded.
A civilian was wounded during the incident while there were 367 households or 1,707 individuals displaced.
But Gapay vowed the government forces will sustain their operations against the BIFF until they have been decimated.