THE police chief of Datu Piang town was the target of the December 3, 2020 attack by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Joint Task Force Central spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Anhouvic Atilano said on Friday, December 4, 2020.
Citing initial information gathered from the troops, Atilano said Police Captain Israel Bayona and his men were on board the police car, but abandoned it after learning that the armed men had targeted them.
The police car was abandoned near the patrol base of the 6th IB, which was manned by four soldiers.
Atilano said the four soldiers tried to repel the estimated 30 armed men while the town policemen hid.
"Ang nagma-man po dito ay apat na sundalo lang po at ang nakasagupa po nila ay 30 members, armed members ng BIFF at Dawlah Islamiya. 'Yung mga police po, they alighted the vehicle at nagtago po sila sa safer place but 'yung tropa ng 6ID, they try to repel itong mas malaking grupo ng BIFF," he said in a radio interview Friday.
(Four soldiers were manning this. They tried to repel the 30 armed men from BIFF and Dawlah Islamiya. The police abandoned their vehicle and hid in a safer place.)
The four soldiers were able to call for reinforcement, which immediately arrived, thus, preventing the rebels from proceeding further into the town.
"Noong na-overwhelm na po sila, nag-reposition na po sila sa alternate battle position nila for safety at 'yun na rin po ang pagdating ng reinforcement kaya di po natuloy ang pagpasok ng armadong grupo," said Atilano.
Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson Brigadier General Ildebrandi Usana said the PNP Regional Mobile Force Battalion (RMFB) also responded during the encounter.
Around 50 armed men from BIFF and Dawlah Islamiya descended on Poblacion, Datu Piang at around 10:30 p.m. Thursday.
One group attacked the police station and torched a police car while the other group “harassed” the Charlie Company of the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Battalion, Atilano.
The terrorists fled in boats in the Liguasan Marsh.
No casualty was reported on the government side during the incident.
Not like Marawi
Citing reports, Atilano said Bayona was involved in a conflict with some people who have relatives in the BIFF.
He allayed fears of residents and said the incident cannot be compared to the Marawi siege.
Atilano said the BIFF and Dawlah Islamiya fighters did not target the residents. None of the houses were hit during the gunfight.
He said the attackers had targeted Bayona only.
AFP chief of staff General Gilbert Gapay said an event similar to the Marawi siege is “highly improbable” from happening again.
"Even another Marawi is highly improbable at this point in time. Because we have already learned the lessons of Marawi and we can consider what happened in Datu Piang as an isolated case and it is really far from another Marawi incident," he said. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo / SunStar Philippines)