AUTONOMOUS Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hataman called the Christmas attacks staged by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the provinces of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, and North Cotabato as acts of terrorism.
At least 14 people were killed because of the said attacks. Many of the fatalities are civilians.
The group, whose members are former fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), also rounded up civilian residents of two villages of Pigcawayan town in North Cotabato province, resulting in the evacuation of around 200 residents on Christmas eve.
North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza immediately ordered the distribution of relief assistance to the displaced families. She also wanted to ensure that they are safe even as they return to their homes.
Mendoza also ordered security forces to be on the alert, setting up checkpoints to ensure public safety and prevent more attacks.
Hataman said the attacks staged by BIFF were “devoid of any sense of revolutionary zeal and principles.”
“It was an act of terrorism. It was an attack against civilians, an attack against peace and development in Mindanao, and a cowardly act that deserves nothing but our collective condemnation,” Hataman said.
He urged the people of ARMM to reject BIFF.
“In the face of this act of terrorism, we rely on each other for strength and courage. We rely on our security forces — the military and the police — as we are confident that the attacks will be contained and a spillover is prevented,” he said.
The regional government, through the Department of Social Welfare and Development in partnership with the ARMM Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team (ARMM Heart), also distributed relief assistance to over 1000 civilians who left their villages in the towns of Datu Abdullah Sangki and Ampatuan in Maguindanao.