By Ali G. Macabalang
Troopers of the 57th Infantry Battalion of the 6th Infantry (Kampilan) Division intensified surgical military operations against lawless elements in South Upi, Maguindanao on Feb. 9, it was learned Wednesday.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Pondanera, 57IB commanding officer, led the operations in Baranay Pilar, South Upi and drove out armed men “continuously disrupting the peaceful lives of the people” in the municipality, a 6ID statement said.
The statement said Philippine Air Force helicopters backed ground troops in clearing the area to eliminate remnants of extremists or “peace spoilers” responsible in the attacks of communities in South Upi, a hometown to a considerable number of Teduray tribe members.
It tagged the “peace spoilers” as combatants of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), which the military branded as responsible for the burning of houses of civilian residents, mostly Teduray tribesmen, last Jan. 1.
Major General Juvymax Uy, Commander of 6ID and the Joint Task Force Central (JTFC), directed military forces “to go after the suspects, return the displaced families to their communities, and secure them,” while helping pave the way for peaceful settlement of land disputes in South Upi town, said the statement emailed to the Philippine Muslim Today news.
“Our relentless, intensified focused military operation is aimed to drive away terrorist groups from the area of South Upi. Hence, I urge the residents to immediately report any presence of armed lawless groups in South Upi. Safety of the people and communities of South Upi is paramount in our mission” Maj. Gen. Uy was quoted as saying. AGM