MANILA — Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) spokesman Abu Misry Mama says that they refuse to surrender retrieved weapons and other equipment from the 44 slain Special Action Force (SAF) police commandos as these were ‘seized in a legitimate encounter’ in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao province.
Mama says that they will not yield to calls of the Senate and the Moro Islamic Liberation Font (MILF) to return the firearms and ‘personal effects’ seized in the Mamasapano clash and asserts that they will capture more in future clashes with government forces.
“We have no plans of returning the firearms. Why would we? In fact, we will seize more firearms and ammunitions from government forces in future operations,” Mama says, adding that it is a norm to ‘clean up’ after an armed conflict.
Mama discloses that the BIFF are in possession of at least 10 rifles – including a Bushmaster, a 90mm recoilless rifle, a baby Armalite, two baby Armalites with M203 grenade launchers, four M16s and an M16 with M203 grenade launcher recovered from the Mamasapano firefight.
He explains that these firearms will be handed to new or existing combatants. He also says that the BIFF is currently in defensive position waiting for the retaliation from government troops.
However, Kiram, who identifies himself as a BIFF member, admits that they have already sold most of the seized rifles and used the money to purchase bullets for their operations.
“Sa amin lang, pito and nabenta namin. (In our group alone, we have sold seven [weapons]),” he says, quickly adding that only the Barrett remained in their possession.
“Yung Barrett. Sa totoo lang, hindi namin ibebenta ‘yun, kasi mahalaga sa amin ang sniper. (The Barrett. Frankly, we will not sell it because a sniper is valuable for us.)”
Kiram also mentions that they took night vision goggles and uniforms from the killed SAF troopers.
Conversely, Mama denies that they have a member named Kiram. He suspects that the informant was paid by someone to report erroneous news.
BIFF should not be blamed over encounter
Mama stresses that the BIFF is not deterred by the criminal charges that will be filed against them as threatened by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and several senators. He also asks why they should take the blame over the bloody encounter when they only defended their positions.
“The SAF intruded our area and attacked us. Why blame us for it? They failed in the operation so it is their fault,” he says, denying that they sheltered international terrorist Marwan. “They cannot say that Marwan is really inside the MILF territory the same way that they cannot say that he is in our territory.”
“Mamasapano is a huge town with several barangays. There are MILF, BIFF, soldiers, local government, and even cops in Mamasapano. These groups co-exist in this area. Now how can they say who is protecting who?,” he adds, pointing out that the government should concentrate on searching for alleged bomb expert Abdul Basit Usman instead of pinpointing at them.
Usman, with a $1-million bounty on his head, is reported to be linked to the Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf.
With report from Cyra Moraleda