Peace process open to BIFF
Over the last nine months, members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) have repeatedly harassed our soldiers and terrorized local communities. They planted roadside bombs, sniped at our soldiers, took school teachers as hostages and, in one instance, even beheaded a civilian captive. A few days ago, in the midst of the fighting, they commandeered a private vehicle and forcibly used it as a roadblock.
The ongoing military operations are geared at degrading the BIFF’s capability to continue to cause harm to government forces, civilians and the peace process.
Prior to the conduct of the operations, the ceasefire mechanisms of the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have ensured the safety of civilians in surrounding areas. Relief provisions have been on standby to meet the basic needs of those who have been temporarily displaced.
Government and the MILF have taken the necessary steps to ensure that the operations will not spill over to involve MILF combatants or cause unnecessary or prolonged hardship to civilians. The MILF is assisting in the operations by helping the government contain the movements of the BIFF.
We call on the members and the leaders of the BIFF to put down their arms and be part of the process. We ask them to listen to the plea of their own brothers and sisters to give peace a chance.
Local government officials are ready to receive those who would like to silence their guns and participate in the different programs we will be undertaking as part of the implementation of the peace agreements. We know that BIFF members can also contact supporters or local ground commanders of the MILF who could facilitate their return to normal lives. These and other avenues are open for those among the BIFF who are ready to join us in our peace efforts.
GPH panel chair,
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