Datu Piang residents evacuate as clashes rage . Residents of Datu Piang town in Maguindanao evacuate on Thursday, Januarey 30, along with their livestock, as clashes between soldiers and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters rage. At least 52 rebels and one soldier were reported killed. Mark Navales
Malacañang on Saturday condemned the use of an improvised explosive device in an attack that injured at least 12 people in Maguindanao province.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte also urged the media to coordinate with officials on the ground especially in areas where fighting is likely to take place.
“Hindi maganda ang balitang ‘yan at hindi tayo natutuwa,” she said on government-run dzRB radio.
Initial reports of Saturday’s incident showed at least 12 people were injured in an IED explosion in Maguindanao. Two were from TV5.
Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the blast occurred in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town.
Hermoso was quoted in the GMA News Online report as saying they suspect the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters to be behind the attack.
The BIFF is a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and had been linked to recent attacks in Mindanao following the signing between the government and MILF of an annex that would pave the way for a comprehensive peace pact.
In the meantime, Valte appealed to media agencies to abide by a safety protocol and to cooperate with government representatives such as the police and the military, especially in controlled areas.
Chino Gaston in his report on “Balitanghali” said, among the injured were TV5 reporter Jeff Caparas and his cameraman Adrian Bulatao.
The assistant cameraman was also with the two, but was unhurt from the explosion, it added.
It said the media men were at the area to cover an earlier IED explosion when a second one exploded in the area where they were staying.
“Pagpihit ko ng kaunti, mga dalawang hakbang, biglang may sumabog na,” said Caparas.
Both victims are in stable condition, however, Caparas suffered injuries in his hip area, while Bulatao on his leg and feet, it said.
Citing initial information, the report said the suspects may have a line of sight of the scene before triggering the IED – with the use of a cell phone as a triggering device.
However, authorities are still determining if the media men and the civilians were indeed the target of the explosion, it added.
Meanwhile, Valte said the Palace is disturbed by the discovery of the remains of three child soldiers in one of the areas where fighting between the BIFF and government troops took place.
“Kahindik-hindik ang balita na may tatlo sila ginagamit na child soldiers, beyond the fact that it violates so many laws not just ours but of international laws. We condemn the practice of using child soldiers… Walang lugar ang paggamit ng menor de edad,” she said.
She said the government can help address the situation thorugh child support services, as well as the commitment of its security forces that they will not use child soldiers or warriors.
But she also asked parents to make sure their children are not recruited for such exploitation.
“(S)a magulang, pakiusap natin sana huwag natin payagan ang anak, huwag natin payagang magamit sa ganitong paraan,” she said. — with a report from Amanda Fernandez /LBG, GMA News