BIFF to gov’t forces: ‘We’ll use SAF guns against them’
MANILA, Philippines – The firearms taken from elite cops killed in the bloody Mamasapano clash will remain spoils of war and will be used against government forces, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) said Friday.
BIFF spokesperson Abu Misri Mama, over Radyo Inquirer 990AM, said they “won’t return” the weapons since they “did not borrow” them.
“Kumbaga sa boxing, knockdown sila. Kaya sa amin yun (If we talk about boxing, they were knocked down. So that’s ours,” he said.
“Ibabaril namin sa kanila (We’ll use it against them),” he explained when asked what they will do with the 10 firearms confiscated from the fallen Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) troopers.
The BIFF was among the groups that clashed with the SAF last January 25 during an operation against international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan.
Unlike the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the BIFF has refused to return the weapons and equipment taken from the 44 policemen killed in the alleged misencounter.
The MILF already returned 16 firearms but the government is asking for more, including the prosecution of those involved in the slaying of the policemen.
Mama boasted that their fighters were veterans.
“Sa aming panig noong kasagsagan ng laban ay walang namatay (From our side, at the height of the battle, not one died),” he said.
He said it was the SAF and the Armed Forces of the Philippines that are terrorizing Mindanao.
“Kulang pa sa kanila yung mga narecover namin na mga baril (The firearms we recovered from them are not even enough),” he said.
Is Marwan still alive?
Mama also denied that they knew about Marwan.
“Hindi ko alam kung buhay si Marwan dahil wala akong kilalang Marwan (I don’t know if Marwan is alive because I don’t know anyone by the name of Marwan),” he said when asked about rumors that Marwan was still alive.
Earlier reports said Marwan’s finger was cut off to serve as DNA sample. It was the US Federal Bureau of Investigation that confirmed that the DNA sample was from Marwan.
No war with MILF
Mama pointed out that it was not true that they are being pursued by the MILF. He said it was only Commander Jack Abas who is targeting them, following the orders of North Cotabato Governor Lala Mendoza.
“Kasi ito’y politically motivated ni Governor Lala Mendoza. Binayaran nya si Commander Jack ng MILF para patalsikin ang mga Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters sa area,” he said.
(This is politically motivated by Governor Lala Mendoza. She paid Commander Jack of the MILF to expel the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters from the area.)
Mama said BIFF founder Ameril Umbra Kato personally wrote to MILF chair Al Haj Murad to stop the fighting. Murad reportedly “welcomed” the letter although Abas has yet to stand down.
But MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, in a separate interview over Radyo Inquirer 990AM, said their fighters are engaging the BIFF because of a territory dispute.
“Actually ang naging ugat ng problema na yan nagpapalawak ng teritoryo ang BIFF. Kahit na yung teritoryo ng MILF ay gusto nilang pasukin (Actually the root of the problem was the BIFF’s plan to expand its territory. They want to enter even the territory of the MILF),” he said.
The BIFF is the armed group of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement, which broke away from the MILF at the height of the peace talks. However, the two groups were accused of working together during the bloody clash in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao, which left 44 policemen, 18 MILF fighters and at least five civilians dead.
The MILF was accused of coordinating with the BIFF during the said clash but Mama denied this. He said they are neither enemies nor allies of the MILF.
He insisted that what they wanted was an Islamic state and not the autonomous political entity proposed in the Bangsamoro Basic Law.