MANILA, Philippines - The government is ready to implement defensive actions should armed men led by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM) launch attacks again.
In a statement, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles said the “attacks initiated by this lawless group during Ramadhan only demonstrate their disrespect for this holy month of our Muslim faithful, and their disregard for innocent lives that can be displaced or lost during their irrational assaults.”
Simultaneous attacks were launched Sunday night in the municipalities of Talayan, Datu Unsay, Datu Saudi Ampatuan and Shariff Aguak in Maguindanao; and in Midsayap in North Cotabato.
Deles said BIFM is not part of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is set to start anew exploratory talks with the government this week in Kuala Lumpur.
As such, the BIFM is not covered by any ceasefire agreement, she said. BIFM is led by former MILF leader Ameril Umbra Kato. MILF had already declared Kato as a "bougat or one who defies or does not obey an order."
“This act of aggression of the BIFM is meant to derail the peace process between the government and the MILF. We assure the public that these incidents will not affect the substantial gains that we have carefully and persistently built with our counterparts, foremost of which is the ceasefire mechanism that continues to hold on the ground and kept the peace for our communities,” Deles said.