BIFF, not MILF, controlling IED factory in Maguindanao — gov’t peace negotiator

Policemen accompanying the police Board of Inquiry (BOI) that visited the scene of Mamasapano clash take a break at a store in Tukanalipao, Mamasapano town in Maguindanao on Tuesday. The BOI inspected the scene of the bloody clash that occurred last month. (MNS photo)

Policemen accompanying the police Board of Inquiry (BOI) that visited the scene of Mamasapano clash take a break at a store in Tukanalipao, Mamasapano town in Maguindanao on Tuesday. The BOI inspected the scene of the bloody clash that occurred last month. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), not the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), is controlling a factory for improvised explosive devices in Maguindanao, the government’s chief peace negotiator told a Senate hearing on the deadly January 25 Mamasapano clash on Tuesday.

Philippine government chief peace negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer said contacts of the peace panel from the ground did not find any MILF-controlled gun-manufacturing factory, as accused by Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano in an earlier hearing.

Ferrer however said the BIFF, the MILF’s breakaway group, is making improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Maguindanao.

“Gun-making factory, no. The full report is not yet available. It will be submitted to us formally. But there was an IED-making facility owned by the BIFF in this particular sitio in Maguindanao,” the chief peace negotiator said.

Presidential peace adviser Secretary Teresita Deles meanwhile said that maintaining a gun factory is a violation of the peace agreement between the MILF and the Philippine government.

At a hearing on the Mamasapano incident last February 12, Cayetano accused the MILF of controlling a weapons manufacturing facility in General Salipada Pendatun in Maguindanao.

Improvements

During the same hearing, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara asked the peace panel how the MILF and the Philippine government’s ceasefire mechanism can be improved.

Angara pointed out that the ceasefire only took effect at 4 p.m. on January 25, several hours after the firefight involving the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF), the MILF and the BIFF.

Many police commandos were already dead when the ceasefire mechanism managed to stop the clash, the senator added.

In response to Angara’s query, Deles said better communications equipment can be provided to the ceasefire body and security officials.

Ferrer, for her part, said the MILF and the government should stricly follow protocols to avoid another bloody incident.

Over 60 people, including 44 police commandos and 18 MILF fighters, were killed in the Mamasapano encounter. (MNS)

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