SULTAN KUDARAT -- Government forces arrested five members of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) after the troopers raided a marshland village in Maguindanao province Friday dawn, April 13.
Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc, the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion (IB) commander, said military and police troopers carried out the 4 a.m. raid in neighboring Barangay Tual, Datu Paglat town, Maguindanao, to arrest Sindatok Dilna, a sub-leader of the BIFF faction under Commander Gani Saligan.
Troops from the police’s Special Action Force and Army’s 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion, reinforced by armored vehicles and artillery weaponry from the 7th Field Artillery Battalion, swooped down on the village of Tual and caught five suspects by surprise.
“They (suspects) did not resist arrest upon seeing that they were overwhelmed by our forces,” Cabunoc said, noting that village officials witnessed the law enforcement operation. The suspects were brought to 33rd IB headquarters for further questioning.
However, Dilna, the primary target of the operation, was not among the arrested suspects. Recovered from his safehouse were an M16 rifle and two .45-caliber pistols.
Cabunoc said the secluded sections of the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Marsh at the border of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat have become hiding places for terrorists and political armed groups.
“We have been alerted by the intrusion of alleged members of ISIS-inspired jihadists who mixed with the local population, especially with the political armed groups in the area,” he said.
“We will not allow them to dominate a particular terrain in my area of operation in order to protect the gains of our past security operations here,” he added.
Cabunoc said the Army is working closely with local authorities in convincing people to hand over loose firearms in support of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s order to confiscate illegal weapons that proliferate in Mindanao. (PNA)