The online news portal of TV5
CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao - Task Force Omar, a police-military led investigation task force, has so far arrested seven suspected members of the bandit group that has terrorized Maguindanao over the last four weeks, authorities said.
This, as seven other Maguindanaons expressed a desire to issue a statement on the atrocities committed by Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) against civilian communities, according to Police Director Manuel Barcena, chief of Directorate for Integrated Police Operations-Western Mindanao.
Senior Supt. Jaime Pido, Maguindanao police director and Task Force head, said the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group has so far documented the statement of seven Maguindanaons, who identified the leaders of BIFF who have sown terror against more than 40,000 individuals since August 5.
Barcena declined to identify them since they personally knew the BIFF officials in their communities. The witnesses have been placed under the government's witness protection program.
Three suspected BIFF members were also arrested over the weekend in nearby Sultan Kudarat province.
The Sultan Kudarat Provincial Police Office and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Team (CIDT), arrested the three BIFF members at a police choke-point in a highway along Esperanza town, Sultan Kudarat.
Barcena, citing a report from the Sultan Kudarat police office, identified the suspects as Rasul Linga and Gheramin Macalay Guimandal, residents of Datu Saudi Ampatuan town, and Mastura Biduna of Talayan, all in Maguindanao.
Policemen ordered them to alight from a Tamaraw FX vehicle when they showed restlessness while being inspected at 4 p.m. Friday.
Taken from them were handguns and grenades.
TFO members are now documenting 21 recent violent incidents involving the bandit gang of Ameril Umrah Kato as basis in filing criminal charges against him and his lieutenants, including their spokesman, Abu Misry Mama.
These incidents include murder, multiple murder, frustrated murder, frustrated multiple murders, arson, robbery in band and hostage-taking which they carried out after storming Army and paramilitary installations in Maguindanao's five adjoining towns last August 5.
The former members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front turned to banditry after their leader, Ameril Umra Kato, was ousted by the MILF leadership for disobedience and atrocities in 2008.
Because of the BIFF atrocities, the IDPs, most of them relatives and neighbors, were displaced and remained in evacuation sites.
They refused to return home for fear the BIFF may get back at them or resume their terroristic activities in Maguindanao.
They are now housed in at least 25 evacuation sites in Maguindanao towns of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Datu Unsay, Datu Hofer, Datu Salibo and Shariff Aguak.