BIFF: Attacks have nothing to do with delay in BBL passage
John Unson ( - January 2, 2016 - 2:19am

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - The continuing spate of attacks by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Central Mindanao has nothing to do with the delayed approval by Congress of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the group’s spokesman said Saturday.

The draft BBL, still pending in Congress, is the enabling measure for the replacement of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with a Bangsamoro political entity based on the final compact between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.

“We don’t recognize or support the ongoing peace efforts of the government and the MILF. This is our very own struggle for an independent Islamic state,” sad BIFF spokesman Abu Misry Mama.

The BIFF is comprised of rogue Moro rebels led by radical preachers known for their extreme interpretation of the Qur’an and their ruthless enforcement of a Taliban-style justice system in areas where they operate.

Local folks want the government and the MILF peace panels to help put an end to the recurring attacks by BIFF which started shortly before Christmas.

The two panels are bound by interim security agreements, including the July 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities, to mutually cooperate in addressing security concerns in areas where there are MILF forces.

The BIFF on Saturday again warned of more attacks in response to government’s crackdown on local Jihadist factions.

Mama said their harassment of peasant enclaves and military detachments in Central Mindanao were also meant to show their continuing opposition to the presence of state forces in Moro-dominated areas in the region, now a hotbed of Islamic militancy.

“The BIFF is not a spent force as what the military keeps saying. We’re here and we shall make the government feel our presence for every opportunity that we can,” Mama said.

BIFF commanders had said their deadly maneuvers since last week were partly meant to avenge the deaths of jihadists killed in the government’s continuing crackdown on Moro factions sympathetic to the Independent State of Iraq and Syria.

Eight young members of a local Islamist group displaying the iconic black ISIS flag in their hideout in Barangay Butril in Palimbang town in Sultan Kudarat were killed by pursing combatants of the 1st Marine Brigade last month in an operation initiated on the behest of local folks threatened by their presence.

The Al-Qaeda-linked and now confessed ISIS-inspired Abu Sayyaf also suffered fatalities in a military offensive in Albarka town in Basilan last month, which resulted to the government’s takeover of its enclave in the municipality.

BIFF leaders have overtly been expressing allegiance to ISIS whenever they talk to journalists.

“We have nothing to do with the ongoing GPH-MILF peace initiative. We don’t have any peace endeavour with the government. We are at war with government,” Mama said.

The MILF’s peace panel, chaired by Muhaquer Iqbal, had repeatedly said in the past there seemed no more chance for any reconciliation between them and the BIFF owing to its persistent rejection of the Mindanao peace process.

The BIFF was founded by the Saudi-trained cleric Ameril Ombra Kato, who started as chief of the 105th Base Command of the MILF, but got booted out in 2009 due to insubordination and irreconcilable differences with its central committee.

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