THE military has intensified its operations against armed group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), particularly in the province of Maguindanao where movement was detected, a military official said Thursday.

“Sinimulan pa last month (ang offensives against BIFF), pinaigting lang. May namonitor tayo na may maaring paggalaw na makakaapekto sa katahimikan ng lungsod at siyudad na nasa paligid nila (We have intensified offensives against the BIFF. We have monitored possible movement that could disrupt peace and order),” said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Restituto Padilla said.

He said government forces immediately acted on reports of BIFF movement immediately to avert worse scenarios, such as what happened in Shariff Aguak.

“Pro-active and pre-emptive ang galaw (ng tropa) dahil bago pa man lumaki ang problema dapat matukoy na at ma-address na agad,” Padilla added.

Around 200 residents of the municipality of Shariff Aguak fled their homes after the military launched air and ground assault against the BIFF rebels there around 4 a.m. Wednesday, November 15.

“Meron silang consolidation sa area matagal na din itong sinusubaybayan at minomonitor kaya’t hindi na natin pinaporma pa ang grupo na ito kaya’t inilunsad natin para masiguro ang kaligtasan ng mamamayan doon (They have consolidated their forces in the area. We have been monitoring them),” 6th Infantry Division spokesperson Captain Arvin Encinas said.

He said no casualties were recorded from both sides during the said operation, which lasted for two hours. A military truck was damaged after an improvised explosive device (IED) planted by the BIFF exploded.

The BIFF is a breakaway faction from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is engaged in ongoing peace talks with the government.

Padilla said they will extend assistance to the affected residents and will continue conducting clearing operations in the area. (SunStar Philippines)