Aquino to press ahead with Mindanao trip despite BIFF bombingsBy Kristine Angeli Sabillo
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III will push through with his trip to Mindanao on Tuesday amid the series of bombings allegedly orchestrated by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Malacañang said.
“The President is resolved to go to Mindanao. The President is determined to forge ahead with the Bangsamoro peace agreement and also the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said at a Malacañang press briefing.
Aquino is set to attend a summit of local officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and discuss with them the government’s peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
However, bombings allegedly perpetrated by the BIFF in Maguindanao were reported over the last week that overshadowed the historic peace deal.
The BIFF, a breakaway group of the MILF, has been allegedly attempting to undermine the ongoing peace talks, especially after the signing of the normalization annex, the last document needed to seal the final peace agreement.
“We cannot countenance situations like this where there are people who are bent on sabotaging government resources and infrastructure, but our military is on top of it,” Lacierda said.
He said “the military will take necessary actions to protect the resources and infrastructure of important installations.”
The BIFF on Saturday bombed a transmission tower in Maguindanao but failed to topple it.
Meantime, Lacierda said they would ask Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla to address the scheduled blackout in the area.
He said that while “naysayers” are expected, the government continues to reach out to other groups in Mindanao to achieve a just and lasting peace in Mindanao.
Once the peace agreement is signed by the government and the MILF, a Bangsamoro Basic Law must be crafted and approved by both the President and Congress.