Saturday, April 11, 2020

7 BIFF men yield to Army in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 11, 2020): 7 BIFF men yield to Army in Maguindanao (By Edwin Fernandez)

BIFF SURRENDERER. A member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) receives financial assistance from former mayor Nathaniel Midtimbang (center), husband of Mayor Estephanie of Datu Anggal Midtimbang town in Maguindanao, after he and six others surrendered to the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion (IB) based in the municipality on Friday (April 10, 2020). Lt. Col. Rommel Valencia (right), 7IB commander, witnessed the event. (Photo by 7IB)

Seven armed extremists believed to be involved in attacks against government forces and civilians in bombing sorties have surrendered to military authorities in Maguindanao province on Friday.

Col. Jose Narciso, commander of the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade based in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, said
the surrenderers belonged to the group of Imam Bongos, leader of one of the three factions of the Islamic State-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

The group, from Sultan sa Barongis town of the province, yielded with their high-powered guns.

One of them said they have difficulty running from the relentless military operations in the Maguindanao marshland.

“Mahirap sir, may atake sa itaas, may sa baba (It’s difficult with attacks coming from above and from the ground),” Ali, one of the surrenderers, said.

Their leader, Imam Bongos, is the most radical among the three leaders of the BIFF who had been advocating hatred against soldiers and non-Muslims in mainland Mindanao.

Narciso said the seven BIFF radicals surrendered to the 7th Infantry Battalion based in Datu Anggal Midtimbang, Maguindanao with the help of former town mayor Nathaniel Midtimbang.

He said the former militants agreed to renounce their BIFF membership, live normal lives, and become productive inhabitants of neighboring Sultan sa Barongis municipality.

About 100 BIFF members have already surrendered in batches in the past two years to the military in Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat.

Since the surrender took place at the 7IB headquarters in her town, Datu Anggal Midtimbang Mayor Estephanie Midtimbang extended cash assistance to each of the seven surrenderers as they pledged allegiance to the Philippine government.

All of the rebels who yielded to the government are now maintaining income-generating projects provided to them by the government in exchange for their surrender and the firearms they turned in.

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