300 armed Christians in Central Mindanao vow to defend lands from BIFF
SOMEWHERE IN CENTRAL MINDANAO — About 300 armed Christian civilians on Tuesday, gathered in a hinterland area of this region as they vowed to stand up against attacks by a radical Moro group.
Calling themselves “Red God’s Soldiers,” the armed civilians also burned a replica of the IS flag and pledged to defend their lands and families from the atrocities of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) as they raised their weapons – mainly automatic rifles.
The BIFF, a splinter group from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), staged deadly attacks on civilian communities in Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat in December. At least 11 people were killed in those attacks.
Brother Asiong, the group’s spokesperson, said they had grown tired of the BIFF and they could not cow in fear anymore.
He said they have decided to stand up and fight for themselves because the military was not always there to defend them.
“We are always under attack even if we are just working in our farms. We were forced to arm ourselves. We don’t want to die without doing something,” he said to a group of reporters.
Brother Asiong also urged President Aquino to help them in the land conflict they have been facing with their Moro neighbors. The land conflict, he said, worsened with the BIFF’s attack.
He said for the Christian landholders, their claim to the lands were legitimate and backed by documents.
“But now the rebels wanted to take them back,” Brother Asiong said.
He clarified that their group was different from the Ilaga or Tadtad, which had been blamed for many cases of human rights violations and killings of unarmed Moro – women and children included – in the 1970s and the 1980s.
Brother Asiong said that unlike the Ilaga, their forces have been operating only in their respective communities and have been organized for defense purposes only. SFM
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