BIFF: We will help secure NGCP towers
COTABATO CITY—A day after warning of launching more attacks against government soldiers, the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) on Monday offered to help secure vital facilities of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).
“We will help secure the towers, because we know ipa-pass on sa consumer ang gastos ng NGCP diyan (repair expenses will be passed on to consumers),” Abu Misry Mama, speaking for the BIFF, told the Inquirer by phone.
“We are electric consumers, too, and we are burdened by losses, so we will help secure it in our own way,” Mama added.
The cost of restoration and repair of the damaged towers would be charged to consumers, based on the Energy Regulatory Commission.
Denying that the BIFF had a hand in previous attacks on NGCP’s steel towers, Mama said his group had no idea who was behind the series of bomb attacks on the structures in areas where the BIFF operates.
“Maybe people who have rights-of-way claims to NGCP were behind it. This is only my assumption,” he said in Filipino when asked if he had any idea who was behind the attacks.
“I cannot promise but we will do our best to help in whatever way we can to prevent the bombings,” Mama added. He said the BIFF leadership would soon pass a resolution directing its men in the field to help secure the steel tower.
The rebel spokesperson also said the BIFF would “lie low” from its offensive against the military “because they are on alert, they are watching us, we will attack if they lower their guards.”
“No unilateral ceasefire from us. We will just lie low,” he said.
On Christmas Day, the BIFF killed nine civilians in a series of offensives against farming villages in the Maguindanao-Sultan Kudarat borders and in a village in North Cotabato province. Five BIFF rebels were also killed.
Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, 6th Infantry Division (ID) chief, condemned the attacks.
“The 6th ID condemns the treacherous act of the lawless group, BIFF and will not allow them to continue thriving within Central Mindanao,” he said.
He also expressed deep sympathy to the family of the victims of the lawless group.
In November, Pangilinan ordered all units to be extra vigilant and to ensure that the respective communities over which they have jurisdiction would be able to celebrate the season peacefully and smoothly.
“Despite our alertness over the situation, we still need the help and the cooperation of the community to preempt the plans of the lawless group,” Pangilinan said.
Mama refused to guarantee that no BIFF offensive would be launched on New Year’s Eve or after the New Year revelry.
“Right now, we will sleep soundly because the Army is on alert,” he said, adding the BIFF armed struggle would continue the guerrilla way.
In Manila, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, chair of the Senate committee on national defense and security, said the intelligence community has not yet validated that the BIFF has links with the Islamic State (IS) group. He said the group could still very well sow fear there because of its “significant numbers.”
The BIFF had warned of more violence after its Christmas attacks in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao and North Cotabato.
The group, which broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2011, has said its attacks in Central Mindanao were inspired by the IS. Edwin O. Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao; with a report from Christine O. Avendaño in Manila