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CIDG agents arrest ex-BIFF leader tagged in high-profile crimes

COTABATO CITY— Agents of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group on Wednesday arrested in Datu Piang, Maguindanao del Sur  a former commander of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters who is wanted for more than a dozen high-profile criminal cases.

Brig. Gen. Prexy Tanggawohn, director of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, told reporters on Thursday morning that the suspect, Abunawas Ibad Damiog, known before as the BIFF’s Commander Bayawak, is now detained. He is awaiting prosecution for multiple murder, frustrated multiple murder, arson and violation of the Republic Act 11479, also known as the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

Tanggawohn said Damiog yielded peacefully when agents of the CIDG-BAR, led by its regional chief, Lt. Col. Huesca, served him warrants of arrest in the town proper of Datu Piang after confidential informants, among them local officials, informed them of his presence in the area.

CIDG-BAR agents seized Damiog’s .45 caliber pistol that they noticed tucked in his waist before he was cuffed and detained. This will be used as evidence in prosecuting him for illegal possession of a firearm.

Tanggawohn and Huesca separately told reporters that there were no warrants of arrest from different courts in Central Mindanao yet for Damiog when he surrendered in 2021 to the Army’s 1st Mechanized Brigade that then covered Datu Piang and neighboring towns.

Senior officials of different police units in Maguindanao del Sur told reporters that Damiog and his followers were responsible for the plunder of the Catholic church and the attack on the police station in Datu Piang, about three years ago, where they set on fire a patrol car before they fled when they sensed that Army reinforcements were closing in.

The BIFF, where he once belonged, operates in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and has a reputation for bombing establishments and buses if owners ignore demands for money.

More than 700 members of the BIFF and its ally, the Dawlah Islamiya, surrendered in batches in the past 24 months to units of the Bangsamoro regional police and the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, many of them reintroduced to mainstream society