Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu on Sunday, May 9, condemned the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters’s display of disrespect to the Muslim observance of the holy month of Ramadhan when they stormed a Maguindanao town’s public market the other day.
Government military troops were able to drive away the BIFF from Datu Paglas town following a brief skirmish that did not result to injury or death of civilians.
“We are only thankful that no one was used as hostage or hurt when the two groups briefly exchanged fires,” Mangudadatu said.
He chided the BIFF for its act of violence, saying that forcing their way into the public market during Ramadhan only shows that this armed group no longer respect the Islamic religion.
“Ang pag-atakeng ito ng mga BIFF sa banal na panahon ng Ramadhan ay patunay lamang na walang kinikilala o pinagingilagang Diyos ang mga terrorista (This BIFF attack during the holy observance of Ramadhan proves that these terrorists no longer recognize or respect God,” said Mangudadatu, former governor of the province.
The heavily armed BIFF men raided Datu Paglas town early Saturday then holed themselves up in the town’s public market. The group stayed there until government troops arrived and clashed with the terrorists.
During the stand-off between the military and BIFF members, Mangudadatu, together with other members of his family, coordinated and offered possible assistance authorities may require to further protect and ensure the safety of civilians.
“Any act of terrorism in the guise of religion, will not succeed in undermining our foundations, traditions and democratic culture. Putulin na natin ang galit at paghihiganti (Let us end anger and revenge). There are many ways we can reaffirm our commitment to our beliefs and values without resorting to violence and unrest,” Mangudadatu said.
He lamented reports that many of the BIFF members were boys as young as 15 to 25 years old.
“Nalulungkot ako na (It’s sad to know) some of the BIFF recruits were as young as 15 years old. They are carrying firearms when they should be in school,” he stated.