2,122 families displaced by central Mindanao clashes

The government has 9 more evacuation centers to accommodate those affected by the violence

EVACUATED. Around 2,000 residents from 3 villages in the towns of Aleosan and Pikit left their houses as BIFF rebels arrived in the area. Photo by Ferdh Cabrera

MANILA, Philippines – As clashes between the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the military continue in central Mindanao, more and more families are being forced to flee their homes to avoid the violence.

On Tuesday, August 13, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the number of displaced families has risen to 2,122, which “translates to 10,610 persons.”

“From the initial number of 4 evacuation centers, we have opened additional ones, bringing up the number to 13. That is in Pikit and we serve, via those 13 evacuation centers, 1,197 families or that translates to 5,985 persons,” she said.

The rest — roughly half of the 10,610 displaced — “have chosen to seek refuge among friends, family, and perhaps other persons.”

“The others, they are more comfortable to stay with family and friends. However, we are prepared to provide shelter also for them in the meantime,” she said.

READ: BIFF has a new commander, says spokesperson

A series of bombings have rocked central and nothern Mindanao in less than 2 weeks.

On July 26, a Cagayan de Oro explosion killed 8 and injured 46 others. It was followed by another deadly blast in Cotabato on August 5, which killed 8. On August 7, at least 3 more bombings occurred – 2 in Maguindanao and one in North Cotabato, with 7 soldiers injured in one of the attacks.

The BIFF, a breakaway group that doesn’t favor the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s peace talks with the government, has taken responsibility for the second Maguindanao explosion in Datu Piang. They are also the suspected culprits in the other Maguindanao blast.

A separate report suggests the BIFF could also be behind the CDO blast, while President Aquino has said the bombings may also have been caused by a terrorist group. – Rappler.com