By Francis Wakefield
Five people were arrested while three firearms were seized in a dawn raid by the combined elements of the Philippine Army and the Special Action Force in Paglat town, Maguindanao on Saturday.
Lt. Col. Harold M Cabunoc, commanding officer of the Army’s 33rd Infantry (Makabayan) Battalion, said the target of the law enforcement operations was the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) faction of Sindatok Dilna alias Motolite, a known associate of Gani Saligan.
Backed by wheeled armored vehicles from the 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion and supported by artillery fires from Charlie Company of the 7th Field Artillery Battalion, the assaulters of the 33rd Infantry Battalion and the 4th Special Action Battalion stormed the identified hiding places of the notorious personalities in Tual village.
Cabunoc said the suspects did not resist arrest upon seeing that they were overwhelmed by the security forces.
“We handcuffed five suspects and interrogated them in the presence of local government officials who witnessed the operations,” Cabunoc said.
The security forces accounted three firearms recovered including one Cal 5.56mm AR 18 armalite rifle and two M1911A1 Cal 45 pistol. The suspects were brought to 33rd IB headquarters for further questioning.
Cabunoc said the hinterland areas of Maguindanao have become the hiding places for terrorists and political armed groups.
“We have been alerted by the intrusion of alleged members of ISIS-inspired jihadists who mixed with the local population especially with the political armed groups in the area. We will not allow them to dominate a particular terrain in my area of operation in order to protect the gains of our past security operations here,” Cabunoc said.
At present, the Army is working closely with local authorities in convincing people to hand over loose firearms to demonstrate their support to President Duterte’s order to collect illegal weapons that proliferate in Mindanao.