AFP chief Catapang orders ‘all-out offensive’ vs BIFF
MANILA, Philippines ― Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. on Wednesday ordered the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) to launch “all-out offensive operations” against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Catapang said that the operation aimed against the BIFF is a measure seeking to protect the communities from assaults launched by the rebel group.
“I am saddened by the news that at least 20,000 people had been displaced by the violent attacks perpetrated by the BIFF in the hinterland villages. We will do our best to protect the people and allow them to go back to their homes,” Catapang said in a statement.
The AFP chief ordered all its unit commanders to conduct “joint law enforcement operations” with the Philippine National Police to avoid clashes with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Meanwhile, amid the perceived rift between the AFP and the PNP following the bloody Mamasapano clash, Catapang called for government security forces to be united against “lawlessness and terrorism.”
“We must remain united in our common fight against lawlessness and terrorism. Let us show the enemies of the state that we are a formidable force that will continuously pursue them anywhere they go,” he added.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development and local government units in the towns of Pagalungan and Pikit in Cotabato province have been ordered to provide humanitarian assistance for the displaced residents.
According to Inquirer sources, the military offensive against the BIFF started late last Friday.
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