By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – Eight combatants of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) have yielded to authorities amid intensified military operations in Maguindanao, an Army official said Sunday.
Major Arvin Encinas, spokesman for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID), said the BIFF fighters led by Gani Saligan were to be presented to the media at a press conference at the 6ID headquarters in Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao Sunday afternoon.
Brig. Gen. Diosdado Carreon, commander of the 601st Infantry Brigade (603IB), would present Saligan’s group to 6ID Head Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana and other military officials alongside Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and local civilian authorities, it was learned.
Saligan is a sub-commander of Ustaz Karialan, the figurehead of one of the BIFF factions.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leadership consider Karialan as a “moderate” rebel leader “inclined” to join the folds of the law once the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is put in place.
News about the surrender of Saligan’s group came a day after Air Force planes dropped bombs on Sitio Tatak, Barangay Tugal, Sultan-sa-Barongis town where fighters of the ISIS-inspired Abu Toraife’s BIFF faction were reportedly holding out in 20 bunkers.
Encinas said the airstrikes helped ground troops cleared Tatak of Toraife’s men led by sub-commander Salahuddin Hassan.
Mangudadatu and Sobejana welcomed the surrender of Saligan’s group, even as the governor renewed his commitment that children rebels rejoining the government will be “given” priority for coverage under the provincial government’s scholarship program called Maguindanao Education Assistance for Community Empowerment (MagPEACE.)