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Splinter rebel group announces ceasefire

BIFF decision gives lift to stalled peace process

  • Ferdinandh Cabrera, Cotabato City
  • Philippines
  • August 28, 2012
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A breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) announced today it would agree to a ceasefire following recent attacks which have displaced villagers in Mindanao and undermined peace talks.

The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), which split from the MILF in 2010, will maintain its defensive positions but cease a recent spate of attacks against government forces and its proxy militias, said BIFF spokesperson Abumisry Mama following pressure from the MILF.

"Yes, we will abide by [the MILF's] appeal,” said Mama. “It's not a big deal."

The breakaway faction had no intention of rejoining MILF, however, he added.

The MILF earlier called on the BIFF leadership to stop attacks in the provinces of North Cotabato and Maguindanao to pave the way for the next round of peace talks with the government scheduled to be held in Malaysia.

It welcomed the announcement today, although it remained unclear whether BIFF had signed an agreement confirming the ceasefire with an emissary of the main Islamic rebels, said MILF spokesman Al Haq.

The army was also cautiously optimistic after hearing the news.

“We will just hope the BIFF statement is sincere,” Colonel Prudencio Asto of the Army’s 6th Division said today. “They have brought too much loss to the lives of many residents who have fled their homes.”

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