Duterte to visit Cotabato City after BIFF attack

President Rodrigo Duterte will visit Cotabato province to urge the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) to prevent another armed attack, days after the group seized a nearby town market, the Palace said Tuesday.

Duterte will meet with officials of the military and the Bangsamoro region to discuss the brief clash between government troops and BIFF members over the weekend, said his spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque.

“The objective of the President is to relay his message that he will fulfill his responsibility of enforcing the law,” Roque said in his televised briefing.

“Due to the incident in which some BIFF members temporarily went to Datu Paglas, his message and his warning is he will enforce the law and he will condone the use of violence,” he added.

Roque, who was broadcasting his press conference from the Mindanao Media Hub in Davao City, said he would relay the outcome of the meeting since it remains unclear whether it would be aired on television.

“I’m not sure if it will be for public consumption, because you know, the meeting is between the President and officials from the Bangsamoro region. I will update the country on the topics and I will issue an advisory if the meeting won’t be broadcasted live,” he said.

A gunfight erupted between state forces and about 20 BIFF members in the municipality of Datu Paglas in Maguindanao on early Saturday after the outlawed group stormed the town market and established a defensive position there around 4:30 a.m.

They prevented vendors and civilians from leaving the area and hundreds of motorists along the Datu Paglas-Tulunan highway were reportedly stranded, according to state-run Philippine News Agency.

Six hours later, the military has regained control of the area, which is located about 10 kilometers from Buluan town near Maguindanao’s provincial capitol.

The Philippine Army has said that the BIFF members withdrew toward the mountainous area of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat after a brief military air and ground assault.

The BIFF has been linked in various bombings in Mindanao in recent years.

It is a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which earlier brokered peace with the government and is in the process of transition into self-governance in the Bangsamoro region.

Credit belongs to : www.tribune.net.ph

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