CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao — Displaced families in Maguindanao are now safe to return home and live normal lives, the AFP chief of staff said Tuesday.
About 120,000 civilians were dislocated by the government’s operation against outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Catapang visited Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao to lead the symbolic replacement of a wooden foot bridge near the site where police commandos and Moro armed men figured in a clash on Jan. 25 after the Special Action Force neutralized Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias “Marwan.”
Regional Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) said the construction of a concrete structure would be financed by the regional government.
“The evacuees can now return home, their communities are now secured,” Catapang said, adding that government forces would provide security for the civilians and prevent the BIFF from extorting the villagers.
A day after Catapang announced that the Army offensives and law enforcement operations have been terminated but small scale operations against smaller groups of BIFF will continue.
Catapang told reporters the BIFF have splintered into smaller groups to avoid massive military action.
“Our troops will now focus on peace and development operations as well as police action against lawlessness,” he said.
The government had been spending more than Php 2 million a day as food provision to the displaced families.