Clashing BIFF, MILF rebels asked to spare Maguindanao townsfolk

Published October 7, 2019, 10:34 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Ellson Quismorio

A House leader from Mindanao has appealed to warring members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to spare the communities and civilians who may be caught in their crossfire.

Maguindanao 2nd district Rep. Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu (photo courtesy of Maranao scribe Moh Saaduddin / MANILA BULLETIN)
Maguindanao 2nd district Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu (photo courtesy of Maranao scribe Moh Saaduddin / MANILA BULLETIN)

Maguindanao 2nd district Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu made this call as he and operatives of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP), as well as local government officials from Shariff Saidona, Maguindanao, are closely monitoring the recent clash in the said town.

“I am appealing to our fellow brothers, especially to the BIFF, to lay down their weapons and think about the countless civilians that could be affected as they trade bullets,” said Mangudadatu, who sits as vice chairman of the House Committees on Mindanao Affairs, Local Government, and National Defense and Security.

“I call for sobriety for both groups. Put down your arms, sit down, and engage in meaningful dialogues where you can fully express your sentiments and arrive at an agreement. Decades-long war hasn’t solved anything,” he stressed.

Mangudadatu lamented that the war in his province has become a vicious cycle where sons took over the arms after their fathers and of their father’s father.

“This has been a sad cycle in Maguindanao. I pray for Allah to make us all instrumental in ending this. Let us break this chain together,” he said.

The congressman called on the BIFF to consider joining the government’s decommissioning program.

“It is high time for BIFF to reintegrate themselves to society and lead fruitful, productive civilian lives like those of the decommissioned MILF members. They (BIFF) too can have the same privilege.”

The former Maguindanao governor also encouraged the rebels to take advantage of the government’s socio-economic programs under the peace agreement signed between the government and the MILF.

Moro rebels who enlisted themselves for decommissioning were given vocational schooling through the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). They can also receive aid packages and cash grants from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Mangudadatu said.

 
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