Thus, ordered Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. to troops now operating against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Central Mindanao not only to achieve peace, but also to bring in government services.
Col. Noel Detoyato, AFP-Public Affairs Office chief, said that the AFP chief emphasized to the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID), under Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, the need to get rid of the armed elements in order to bring government service to peace-loving people of Central Mindanao.
“General Galvez has given commanders operational goals and standards to clear areas in every operation, there should be extra push toward the positive contribution to the AFP mission which is to clear all security threats, defeat all enemies,” Detoyato said.
“The instruction to the ground commanders is to increase the operational tempo so that there will be improved security environment so that government services will be delivered,” he added.
Detoyato stressed that the AFP chief did not give any timeframe for the troops to accomplish the mission in Central Mindanao.
He cited the dynamics of the ongoing operations in Liguasan Marsh which is a combination of water, marsh land and patches of land.
“Liguasan is a very unique operational area…those who have mastery of the terrain clearly have the advantage,” Detoyato said.
According to Detoyato, there are about 50 BIFF fighters now being pursued by troops.
Currently, elements of the 6th ID are conducting focused military operations against the BIFF in Liguasan Marsh which straddles three provinces in Central Mindanao.
So far, 16 BIFF rebels had been killed while a bomb manufacturing facility was destroyed during the continuing combat operations.
On the other hand, at least one soldier perished in the firefight.
Sobejana vowed to utilize all resources under his disposal to defeat the BIFF — which is linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
On Monday, Sobejana said that at least three foreign militants were among the targets of the ongoing operations.