(File photo)

MANILA – An intensified intelligence gathering and well-coordinated response efforts are needed to prevent a repeat of the attack by members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Datu Piang, Maguindanao, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Monday.

In a press conference in Camp Crame, PNP-Directorate for Investigation and Detection Management (DIDM) director, Maj. Gen. Marni Marcos, said this is the recommendation of the board of inquiry (BOI) tasked to probe the attack.

"There are identified gaps that need further enhancement, the coordination mechanism between the PNP and other government security forces at the ground level should be improved on the intelligence sharing and movement of troops," said Marcos, head of the BOI.

Citing the BOI report, Marcos said the Dec. 3 attack was staged by BIFF terrorists led by Muhidden Animbang alias "Commander Karialan" and Salahuddin Saguia alias "Sala Salik".

He added that based on the intelligence monitoring, the BIFF's plan to attack the town was mentioned in a report received by Datu Piang police chief, Capt. Israel Bayona, hours before the assault.

"There is a lack of appreciation in the gathered intelligence regarding the terror plans of the BIFF. No adjustment of the Datu Piang municipal police station personnel strength and capabilities and no strategic deployment of PNP mobile forces have been made," he said.

He added that there was no enough coordination and intelligence validation made by the police with their military counterparts.

Marcos also noted that the resistance from the Datu Piang police prevented the burning of the Sta. Teresita Parish Church by the BIFF.

"Their actions were very commendable as it resulted in the prevention of more damages particularly the burning of the church and it has also resulted in the repulsion of the enemy," he said.

He also cited the need for additional police officers in the area.

"As we noticed, there were only 22 personnel in that area, considering the population ratio is one is to 1,126 and the ideal ratio is one is to 500. It shows (the need for) additional personnel to capacitate this municipal station," he said.

Marcos said the BOI also recommended the utilization of the implementation of the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to enlist the support of the group in the fight against the BIFF.

He added that the PNP headquarters will provide a replacement for the patrol car of the Datu Piang police that was burned in the attack.

The BOI also recommended Bayona's reinstatement as Datu Piang police chief after undergoing stress debriefing. He was earlier relieved pending the results of the investigation.

Another recommendation from the BOI is for the Directorate for Personnel Records Management to issue appropriate awards to the police personnel who defended the town.

Meanwhile, PNP chief, Gen. Debold Sinas, said no police personnel would face raps over the incident.

"As kung may mafile-an ng kaso ay wala naman (No one would be charged). We just have to correct ourselves. But we are just happy we received good feedback from the municipal mayor and he himself has praised the police in defending Datu Piang and nakita nyo naman, na save po yung simbahan (you saw it, the church was saved)," Sinas said.

Sinas also dismissed claims that Bayona was the target of the attack. (PNA)