Residents of a conflict-affected community in Maguindanao have repudiated the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the path of violent extremism cultivated by the terror group, according to the military in Maguindanao.
The people of Barangay Pagatin, Datu Salibo, have withdrawn any support for the violent extremists, according to Lt. Col. Charlie Banaag, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Battalion (IB), who spoke at a simple ceremony held at the 6IB headquarters in adjacent Barangay Magaslong, Datu Piang town on Tuesday.
Civilians freely took the pledge of allegiance to the government, backed by barangay officials.
The occasion was followed by the signing of a “fatwa,” a municipal decree declaring that they will repudiate and no longer support all types of violent extremism.
Banaag explained that the action was a product of the 6IB’s Bravo Company’s Community Support Program – Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (CSP-PCVE), which aims to rid the barangay of the BIFF and other violent extremist groups.
He added that the event sought to strengthen citizens’ resistance to violent extremist recruiting in order to achieve inclusive and long-term peace and development in the community.
“Don’t get lured in by these groups. If you need a living, you can find it everywhere. You just have to figure out how to create something out of it and remain a productive citizen of the municipality of Datu Salibo,” Banaag told reporters here.
In a separate interview, Teng Abdul, a local resident, promised to report any further sightings of the BIFF or similar groups in their region to authorities.
“Di dapat suportahan ang BIFF. Nanggugulo lang sila,” he said.
The community’s support for the government’s anti-terrorism campaign was praised by Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division and leader of the Joint Task Force Central.
“You are the end beneficiaries of this endeavor,” he said.