The AFP and PNP fight the southern illegal drug trade.
Maguindanao, Philippines – Our troops have to now take into account the fact that armed terrorists / criminal elements have a vested interest in cultivating the illegal drug trade in the southern Philippines.
Ten soldiers were injured while four armed criminals were killed in an anti-illegal drugs operation last 26 January in Barangay Saniag and Salman in Ampatuan, Maguindanao.
In an effort to serve a search warrant against Mayor Rasul Sangki, the concerted efforts of the 64th Division Reconnaissance, the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion, and the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP CIDG) were met with heavy gunfire upon entering the village where Sangki was located. In the firefight, four of the mayor’s men were killed while ten soldiers were wounded. An MG-520 helicopter was sent to provide air support. Police and military operations against illegal drugs in the area intensified after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the capture of officials involved in the illegal drug trade. Moreover, the military has reported a heightened state of tension due to movements of armed men they pointed to the drug syndicates who are said to instigated encounters in the area.
The four men killed in the operation are believed to be Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFFs) who support Mayor Sangki’s illegal drug trade. Said BIFFs, intending to delay troop movement and avoid capture, will probably conduct ambuscades while heading to their extraction point. It is also believed that the men killed were diverting the police and army’s attention to prevent Mayor Sangki’s capture who is said to be within the area of Barangays Saniag and Salman.
Sources close to SecurityMatters report that at least 189 families have been displaced due to intensified efforts of the police and military against politicians in Ampatuan, Maguindanao who are involved in the drug trade. Said families have been evacuated and temporarily reside in the Municipal Gymnasium of Ampatuan. The Local Government Unit of Ampatuan provided food and basic services to those affected specifically medicines, food, and aid from social welfare workers.
Three days later, in North Cotabato, the BIFF attacked two patrol bases of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGU). Said bases were under the watch of the Philippine Army’s 38th Infantry Battalion in the same area. Luckily said attack was quelled and BIFF troops were repealed by government security forces.
The BIFF attacked the Army detachments in Barangay Bayan, in the Municipality of Aleosan and Barangay Nalapaan in the Municipality of Pikit, North Cotabato. Moro villagers who were caught in the crossfire ran for their lives. Sources confirm that the BIFFs crawled near said patrol bases and with their assault rifles riddled the soldiers’ bunkers with bullets. Fortunately, no government troops were wounded or killed. This simultaneous attacks on the CAFGU detachment were seen as a retaliatory move by the BIFF after they lost four men in the joint military and police anti-illegal drugs operation in Ampatuan, Maguindanao.