PH military chief says Maguindanao attack an ‘isolated case’
MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay said the late-night attack in Datu Piang, Maguindanao on Thursday was distinctly different from the months-long Marawi siege in 2017.
Another Marawi siege incident would be “highly improbable” at this time, the AFP chief said in an online press briefing.
“They have already learned their lessons of Marawi and we can consider what happened in Datu Piang as an isolated case and it’s really far from another Marawi incident,” he added.
The small band of terrorists, allegedly from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), burned a police car during the attack. Troops immediately responded Gapay said.
Local armed groups with Islamic State ties and a few dozen foreign fighters occupied Marawi City for five months in 2017 as they tried to establish a caliphate in Southeast Asia. It left hundreds killed and thousands displaced from their homes. It was the Philippines’ biggest security crisis in recent years.
Gapay said the BIFF strength was already on a “decline” and “not that strong” to carry out an attack on a similar scale as the Marawi incident.
“They are really not that strong but as I’ve said this is terrorism we are confronting and usually they attack whenever we put our guards down,” he said, as he called for the support of the general public.
“Because of limitations in terms of security forces, hindi naman ganung karami ang ating mga kasundaluhan, hindi rin ganung karami ang ating kapulisan to really guard every inch, every corner of a certain area,” he said.
“We are calling for cooperation, support, and collaboration with other stakeholders in really enhancing our vigilance so that we could protect communities from such terror attacks,” Gapay said.
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