GOVERNMENT forces seized on Wednesday, May 30, a suspected firearms factory of the terror group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao.
Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc, commanding officer of the 33rd Infantry (Makabayan) Battalion, said combined elements of the Army and the police Special Action Force (SAF) stormed the "notorious lair" of the BIFF in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, after receiving information from a concerned citizen.
“We specifically targeted the firearms manufacturing capability of the BIFF. It is part of our ongoing efforts in degrading their firepower as we pressure them to surrender,” he said.
Recovered from the area were a gunsmithing machine, two rocket propelled grenades launchers, a caliber .45 M1911 pistol, a 12-gauge shotgun, rifle grenades, unfinished home-made guns, and assorted ammunitions.
Fifteen people were held for questioning but they were also released to the local government officials.
Cabunoc said they tapped the assistance of other units, such as the 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion and the 7th Field Artillery Battalion, to ensure the success of the operation, as well as the safety of the troops and the residents in the area.
“Our armored vehicles provide protection to the infantry during the assault on the houses, which are located within a civilian community. The sight of the roaring heavily armed armored vehicles serve as deterrence against the terrorists who mingle with civilians,” said Lieutenant Colonel Lauro Oliveros, commanding officer of the 1st Mechanized Battalion.
Police Superintendent Darwin Padla, battalion commander of the 4th SAF, said such heavy support from all other units gave them the confidence to execute the mission alongside with their Army counterparts.
Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, commended the troops for the successful mission.
“You have accomplished the mission without any unnecessary casualties. Continue putting on the pressure against the remnants of the BIFF so that they will eventually surrender like the others,” he said.
Earlier, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez noted the importance of the martial law in Mindanao to recover more unlicensed firearms.
He said the AFP has recovered 6,000 illegal firearms, which is only at least 10 percent of the total illegal firearms in the Mindanao.
"We need to get all the 80 percent of the firearms so that we will remove the possibility of using this for lawlessness and criminalities," he said.
Mindanao was placed under martial law following the attack of the Maute terror group in Marawi City in May 2017. (SunStar Philippines)