Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Cirilito Sobejana said local government authorities and residents in Maguindanao should remain vigilant following the encounter between the military and the Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) last Saturday.
“I enjoin the populace of and local leaders in Maguindanao to remain vigilant as we continue our watch until peace is stabilized,” Sobejana said.
The military and armed members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) clashed in Datu Paglas town, Maguindanao, Saturday morning. Government troops immediately took control of the situation.
According to the 6th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, about 20 BIFF members clashed with soldiers on Saturday in the town.
No soldier was killed in the encounter.
Some houses in the town were damaged after being hit by bullets and bombs, said Vice Mayor Mohammad Paglas.
Meanahilw, many residents of Datu Paglas, Maguindanao have returned to their homes after fleeing on Saturday due to clashes between the military and members of the BIFF.
Maguindanao LGUs, residents should stay vigilant after BIFF attack: Sobejana
But according to Olhamier Saguia, one of the returning residents, some still do not return home due to fear.
“Doon sila pumunta sa kamag-anak nila. Para okay ‘yong pagtulog nila. Tapos ‘yong iba nasa eskwelahan pumunta. ‘Yong mga walang mapuntahan, nasa malapit lang,” said Saguia.
“Takot pa rin kasi nga siyempre ‘yong kahapon, malay mo bumalik at mangyari ulit ‘yon,” he added.
Sobejanasaid that security forces “will not rest until the threat is neutralized.”
“Let us continue to engage local government authorities, stakeholders, and civilians to ensure that peace and security in Datu Paglas and its neighboring towns are preserved,” Sobejana said.
According to Joint Task Force Central spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel John Baldomar, the BIFF forces were able to withdraw after the military isolated the area.
“The extremist groups were forced to withdraw in the same morning after security forces were able to isolate the area. The national highway was again open for public commuters at around 10:30 in the morning of the same day after the clearing of the area was confirmed by security forces,” Baldomar added.