Soldier dies in clash with BIFF in Maguindanao

By Edwin Fernandez

June 12, 2018, 4:25 pm

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao--A young infantryman died while fighting the IS-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao on Monday, the Army here revealed Tuesday.

Lt. Colonel Harold Cabunoc, the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion commander, identified his slain subordinate as Private First Class Garry Quitor, 27, of Pigcawayan, North Cotabato, who, Cabunoc said, "died as a hero in defending the Constitution."

Cabunoc said Quitor was part of Alpha Company led by 1Lt. Alessandro Cruzada that pursued the small band of terrorists in the marshy terrain of Maguindanao on Monday following air and ground assaults in the Liguasan marshland.

After the bombing, the BIFF terrorists ran to different directions and clash with 33rd IB troopers blocking force. A close quarter battle ensued that killed 15 terrorists and also caused Quitor’s death.

"He volunteered as the point man of the patrol despite the high risks involved in the operations. His bravery will be emulated by the rest of my troops," Cabunoc said.

He said Army and police troopers were tracking the enemies inside the bushy area of the marshland that was reported as the hiding place of the fleeing terrorists when the encounter occurred.

Cabunoc said soldiers had to wade through chest deep murky water to locate the concealed positions of the terrorists that were protecting a targeted BIFF bomb-making factory that was destroyed by a military airstrike.

“We are adapting in this new battlefield condition through innovations in tactics and equipment. We are drawing lessons from this experience,” Cabunoc said.

Military informants said that Salahuddin Hassan alias “Orak” and some foreign jihadists are still trapped in the area after their boats were destroyed by the airstrikes and artillery bombardments the past two days.

Soldiers also recovered a .30-caliber Garand rifle in the vicinity of the encounter site and are still looking for other injured armed men.

Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Army 6th Infantry Division commander, has extended his condolences to the bereaved family members of Quitor. "We have lost a gentleman and a warrior today. He will never be forgotten," he said.

The Army claimed to have so far killed 17 BIFF elements during air and ground strikes in the marshland of Maguindanao on Sunday and Monday. Eight others were injured and two were arrested. (PNA)