- Malacañang Palace downplayed militants’ threat against president
- Presidential spokesman said BIFF has no capability, support from Muslims
- Military official also said threat just bravado, a form of attention-grabbing
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang Palace downplayed the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF)’s threat to kill President Rodrigo Duterte; saying the group possesses neither the capability nor the support from the Muslim communities to do so.
“Based on the result, no, [the BIFF does not have the capability to assault the President,” Sun Star quoted presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella as saying. “The fact is there is really no ground support for them. The local Muslim community, the Maranaos especially, do not want this. There is no ground support for them.”
In their assault on Pigcawayan town in North Cotabato, the militants left written messages threatening Duterte’s life.
However, Eastern Mindanao Command deputy chief Brig. Gen. Gilbert Gapay said the BIFF was just trying to cover up its failure in Picgawayan with bravado.
“These are desperate moves and undertaken actions by the BIFF. Dahil [Because] they were expecting a big result out of that attack, because almost 100 of them attacked two barangays in Pigcawayan,” he said. “It was a significant number and they were expecting a result in the furtherance of their… of what they want to achieve that… papansin na ba [they wanted to let everyone know], ‘We’re still here, we’re still a force to reckon with’. But it turned out to be otherwise.”
Nevertheless, Gapay said he is sure the Presidential Security Group (PSG) would make adjustments to secure Duterte’s life against any threats.