BIFF strength ‘significantly reduced,’ says Aquino
With the arrest of one of its leaders and the successful military campaigns of the government, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), as well as its breakaway group United Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM), should not be considered a major problem, President Benigno Aquino III has said.
“For BIFF, their capabilities have truly been reduced. We were able to recover territories where they were able to easily operate,” he said during an interview with Bombo Radyo.
“I don’t want to mention how many were killed, arrested, etc. because they might say I am happy that our fellow Filipinos are being killed,” Mr. Aquino said. “But the report I received said the capacity of BIFF, which was not that big to begin with, has been ‘significantly reduced.’”
He said the arrest of Mohammad Tambako, a former BIFF member and founder of JIM, was also substantial, adding it would be impressive if the group would still be able to consolidate and increase in strength without Tambako.
The President also said there would always be groups seeking to benefit from conflict.
“With the improving situation through the delivery of basic services to our communities, our fellowmen will see hope and slowly these groups will lose support,” he said.
Mr. Aquino said such groups would eventually lose clout and no longer be replaced by other armed groups. He said the same strategy applied to Abu Sayyaf.
He says the only reason why residents are supporting Abu Sayyaf is because they have not been receiving support from the government.
“If the government does what it should do, pursuing these criminals, and then people see they are benefiting from the system, who will support the Abu Sayyaf?”
The President also said there had been significant investments in Mindanao amid the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
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