Separatist rebels retaliate, kill tribal leader

Philippine military troup
Government troops ride on a military truck along the main road of Mapandi district in Marawi City Reuters

Members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) killed a chieftain of a Teduray tribe in Maguindanao Province after rebels surrounded his house and asked him to get out.

Upon getting out of the door, heavily armed BIIF fighters shot the tribal leader dead as a form of retaliation after 13 BIFF fighters were killed by pursuing military troops. The police investigators identified the tribal leader as Diego Met Dagadas.

Prior to the rebels' attacks, exchanges of gunfire took place between BIFF fighters and Philippine security forces in the municipalities of Datu Unsay and Datu Saudi.

Local police authorities are now investigating the case and trying to establish the identities of the BIFF members so they can ready the filing of appropriate charges in court.

Local officials in Maguindanao claimed that of the 13 rebels killed, more than half of them were in their teens. The rebels were killed when military helicopters launched airstrikes on their strongholds in Datu Unsay municipality.

Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu continues to seek the assistance of government security forces because separatist rebels are expected to launch retaliatory attacks for the death of their comrades.

Aside from Mindanao, there have also been reported exchanges of gunfire between Philippine soldiers and separatist rebels in Carmen municipality in North Cotabato.

The Philippine government tagged the BIFF as a terrorist organization upon learning some of its members joined the ISIS-inspired militant group in Marawi to wage war against the Philippine government. The five-month battle in Marawi killed more than a hundred soldiers and 800 militants and damaging thousands of houses.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte also stated that this week turned over 500 units of houses for displaced civilians in Marawi caught in the crossfire between Philippine soldiers and BIFF militants.

Duterte warned that after the war in Marawi, he will order the Philippine military to launch a full-scale war against militants attaching Philippine military posts.