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MILF unit in PNP-SAF killings has violent history

/ 09:39 AM January 29, 2015
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Fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. JEOFFREY MAITEM/INQUIRER MINDANAO FILE PHOTO

COTABATO CITY – The 105th Base Command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has been the unit most involved in armed clashes in Maguindanao and has blocked the arrest of wanted fugitives before.

The unit, headed by Ustadz Zacaria Guma, would not even think twice on engaging fellow MILF units that it tags as “munafik” or hypocrites.

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Recently, a small group of the MILF 105th Base Command, rescued a suspect wanted for murder and arson in Shariff Aguak town.

Information gathered by the Inquirer showed that police armed with a warrant of arrest and assisted by the MILF’s 118th Base Command were about to capture the suspect when men from Guma’s command arrived which led to the escape of the fugitive.

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The 118th Base Command is under Ustadz Wahid Tondok.

In 2012, the 105th Base Command came to the rescue of one of the two parties in a standoff in Lamud, South Upi, Maguindanao. Guma’s men intervened upon learning that the other side, led by Hadji Mama Binangon, was supported by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Guma’s unit was also recently embroiled in armed conflicts stemming from a clan feud in the boundaries of Lebak, Sultan Kudarat, and Upi, Maguindanao.

Last month, the group, combined with members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM), stormed the town of Rajah Buayan, where the Army’s 45th Infantry Battalion was securing a highway concreting project.

The combined MILF-BIFM forces, respectively under Guma and Kagi Karialan, engaged the soldiers in a nightlong firefight in Rajah Buayan, sending hundreds of civilians, many of them women, fleeing.

Residents said the BIFM wanted to retaliate against the Army unit, which Karialan accused of raiding his house in nearby Kabalukan Hills, while nobody was there.

Aside from the “common enemy,” the 105th Base Command has also fought comrades in the MILF.

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An MILF commander, who did not want to be identified, said he nearly lost his family to members of the unit, who wanted to confiscate his firearm.

The MILF commander said he swore to his “visitors” that the firearm they wanted was not owned by the organization, but that he bought it personally.

Guma’s men eventually settled for the vehicle of a relative of the commander, he said.

Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF political affairs chief, was quick to dismiss allegations that the 105th Base Command operated alongside the BIFF.

In the clash Sunday (January 25, 2015) in Mamasapano town, where 44 members of the police Special Action Force were killed, MILF and BIFF forces reportedly worked together in surrounding and attacking government troops.

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 peace process,” he said.

But as far as the BIFF was concerned, there was no clear distinction between its forces and that of the 105th Base Command.

Abu Misri Mama, BIFF spokesperson, said members of both organizations were friends and relatives, and that no other identities prevailed.

“Except that we are all family,” he said.

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TAGS: Bayan, Maguindanao, Maguindanao massacre, Maguindanao misencounter, Mamasapano, Mamasapano incident, MILF 105th Base Command, PNOY, PNP-SAF, President Benigno Aquino III, SAF
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