Security forces foil terror plot in Maguindanao

PAGLAT, Maguindanao—- Combined elements from the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police foiled the attempt to bomb urban centers in Sultan Kudarat after seizing “Anti- Personnel Mines” and triggering devices and Damakling village, here, at January 12.

The 33rd Infantry (Makabayan) Battalion under Lt. Col. Harold M Cabunoc, said his unit orchestrated the counter-terrorist operations after learning about the presence of bombs in a remote village of Pagalad.

“Our informant showed us the pictures of terrorist bombers Ustadz Yasser Saligan and his cohort, Sheik Makakena, a.k.a. Abu Jihad, as they detonated a bomb to test its lethality. We had been tracking the suspects since November 2018,” said LtC Cabunoc.

Under the cover of darkness, the combined elements of 33rd Infantry Battalion, 4th Special Action Battalion, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-ARMM and Maguindanao Provincial Police Office, swooped down on the known terrorist lair at around 3:00am.

The raiding teams collared five persons who were caught off-guard by the presence of heavily armed soldiers and SAF commandos. The troops seized four “Anti-Personnel Mines” and three Cal .45 M1911AI Pistol from the suspects.

Two of the primary suspects, Abu Jihad and Ustadz Yasser, eluded arrest by jumping into the murky water of the Liguasan Marsh upon sensing the presence of government troops.

Military pressure

At around 10:00am, the same raiding teams proceeded to Makainis village, General Salipada K Pendatun town to receive five BIFF members who voluntarily surrendered to the government.

The surrenderors belong to the BIFF faction, led by Commander Mayogantong Bansil, a notorious rebel who had been involved in several atrocities against the government troops and the civilian population.

Accordingly, Commander Mayogantong sent surrender feelers upon knowing the presence of security forces in the adjacent town of Paglat some five kilometers away.

Mayogantong contacted Ltc Cabunoc to confirm his willingness to lay down his arms.

“I am afraid that the AFP will lunch offensives against our group”, said Mayogantong,

Mayogantong and his men surrendered four high powered firearms including a Cal. 50 Sniper Rifle, two M1 Garand Rifles, and a 40mm M79 Grenade Launcher. The surrendered weapons will be presented to Brig Gen Robert Dauz, 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade commander, the unit that has operational control over 33IB.

BGen Dauz commended the operating troops for the latest feat in the campaign against terrorism and violent extremism.

“You have shown expertise in handling the security threats without incurring casualties. Share these best practices in the conduct of operations to all Army units in Central Mindanao,” said BGen Dauz, who earned his first star last week.

Meanwhile, Maj Gen Cirilito E. Sobejana, Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander, said that the BIFF terrorists have nowhere to hide.

“We have won the support of the people in Central Mindanao. The people themselves have voluntarily provided information about the hiding places of the terrorists,” he further said.

The 33IB facilitated the surrender of various threat groups both in Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat through the effective employment of combat operations, community engagements, and civil affairs activities.

Since February 2017, the unit has successfully facilitated the surrender of 203 communist rebels and 32 Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, setting a benchmark in the conduct of military operations in a ‘two front war’ against distinct threat groups.