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MILF, BIFF ties complicating law enforcement – military

... MILF, BIFF deny that they coordinated in attacking SAF on Sunday
By: - Correspondent / @kmanlupigINQ
/ 08:32 PM January 26, 2015

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – As the number of police commandos killed in Maguindanao continues to rise in the aftermath of the fighting in Mamapasano town in Maguindanao on Sunday, people are now starting to ask what went wrong and how difficult it is to enforce the laws in the area.

Aside from the lack of coordination, several military sources said the dynamics between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s 105th Base Command and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) — a thin line between the affiliation and loyalty of the rebels most especially in the boundaries of Maguindanao and North Cotabato — have posed a challenge to the ceasefire and law enforcement in the area.

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Military officials call them “dual citizens,” or rebels who are members of the MILF but who have ties to the BIFF.

The BIFF, after serious disagreements on the conduct of the peace negotiations, broke away from the MILF led by former 105th Base Commander Ustadz Ameril Umra Kato who reportedly has the respect and loyalty of many of the sub-commanders and members of the unit.

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After the split, Kato’s former deputy commander and confidant Zakariah Goma assumed his position as the 105th base commander.

But Ghadzali Jaafar, vice chair for political affairs of the MILF, denied allegations that the 105th Base Command operated together with the BIFF during the clash in Maguindanao on Sunday.

Jaafar said they “see no political and military gain in cooperating with the BIFF.”

“The 105th Base Command will not cooperate with the BIFF because in the first place, the BIFF does not like us. Second, we also do not agree with the activities of the BIFF. And third, the 105th Base Command and the entire MILF would not do anything that would violate any provisions of the peace process,” Jaafar said.

He said the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, the armed wing of the MILF, and its central committee have been very strict disciplining fighters and would not think twice about implementing disciplinary actions on those violating the policies of the organization.

“This information about a cooperation of the MILF with the BIFF is only speculation. There is no evidence. And all of our combatants are disciplined,” Jaafar said.

Jaafar divulged that in 2008, the entire 105th Base Command was suspended due to a violation of the MILF’s policy, which he refused to divulge explaining that these were tactical and internal issues.

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“But what is clear is that the MILF implements discipline and would not think twice about enforcing disciplinary actions,” Jaafar said.

Abu Misri Mama, BIFF spokesperson, also denied any tactical cooperation between the BIFF and the MILF during the clash, and that everything happened by chance on Sunday.

“One of the companies of the SAF passed through one of our brigades forcing our members to defend their positions,” Mama said.

Mama, however, admitted that on the ground and in the communities, the labels MILF and BIFF “are just letters.”

“In the communities, we are friends and relatives. When we passed by each other we embrace and wish everyone Salam. There are no other identities in the ground except that we are all family,” Mama said.

Mama cited the example of 105th Base deputy commander Haon, a distant relative with whom he has been regularly communicating.

“For me, he is my nephew. He is the son of my second cousin. And culturally, we treasure and cherish our families no matter how distant it is,” Mama said.

According to Mama, these dynamics are not political and it is only understandable for them to defend their own kin.

“I do not see it as a betrayal of their original organization. It is about protecting the welfare of your family. If someone in your family is being hurt, it is only normal for you to come and defend him regardless of your beliefs,” Mama said.

But he clarified that the recent clash was in no way a joint operation between the MILF and the BIFF.

Still, Mama said no matter what would happen politically, the value of watching each other’s backs in times of trouble would remain.

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TAGS: Abu Misry Mama, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Basit Usman, biff, bomb makers, clash, Encounter, Ghadzali Jaafar, gun battle, Jemaah Islamiyah, law enforcement, MILF, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, News, Philippine National Police, policemen killed in action, policemen killed in combat, policemen killed on duty, serving of an arrest warrant, Special Action Force, suspected terrorists, terror suspects, warrant of arrest, Zulkigli Bin Hir
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