At least 10 rogue Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels were killed while more than 20 others were wounded in clashes with government forces in Maguindanao on Independence Day, the military here said Saturday. Lt. Col. Jonathan Ponce, regional Army spokesperson, said elements of the 601st Infantry Brigade encountered about 100 MILF guerrillas under the 105th base command in Barangay Kateman, Talayan, Maguindanao.
A two-hour firefight ensued until the rebels retreated toward the mountainous part of Talayan at about 1 p.m., Ponce said. Three hours later, fighting erupted between elements of the 64th Infantry Battalion and MILF rebels in Barangay Ahan, Guindulungan, also in Maguindanao. Due to huge number of Moro rebels, Ponce said the military used artillery and mortar fires. On Saturday morning, government troops conducting clearing operations found 10 dead Moro rebels whose bodies were beyond recognition. “Enemy fatalities who are in the custody of operating troops were beyond recognition due to artillery and bomb explosions,” Ponce said when asked how they came up with the rebels’ casualty figure. “They will be buried in the presence of local officials until their relatives would retrieve them,” he said. Six Army battalions have been pursuing rogue MILF rebels under Ombra Kato in Maguindanao. Kato, who carries a P10-million reward for his arrest, is wanted for leading the attacks on civilian communities in North Cotabato last year after the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the proposed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD). The MOA-AD would have established a Bangsamoro homeland in Mindanao. Meanwhile, Eid Kabalu, MILF spokesperson, denied they have suffered heavy casualties in Maguindanao. He said he is yet to receive actual report from their troops on the ground.