The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process condemns in the strongest terms the series of attacks carried out by members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the latest of which occurred yesterday in the town of Datu Paglas in Maguindanao.

This brazen assault on communities while our Muslim brothers and sisters are observing the holy month of Ramadan shows the true nature of the BIFF — it does not hold anything sacred, and will not hesitate to use armed force to promote their distorted ideology.

Clearly, the group’s only intention is to sow violence, anger and division among the Bangsamoro people. And as residents face the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, these attacks further heighten their sense of fear, distrust and insecurity.

We must not allow these incidents to happen. They are not only attacks against our people and their communities, but are a direct assault against the basic principles that govern a democratic, lawful and peace-loving society.

And we can only do this if we are united as a people. We would therefore like to call on all sectors of society to come together and confront this menace that is before us. Regardless of our tribe or religion, we are all in this together.

The best way to defeat these terror groups is to make their cause irrelevant, especially among those who support them. We therefore need to create an environment where sustainable development and long-lasting peace can take root.

History has shown us that armed struggle cannot resolve the issues confronting the Bangsamoro. It is only by laying down our arms and engaging in peaceful dialogue that we shall be able to uplift the lives of the people whom we profess to fight for.

Our agency is closely monitoring the situation on the ground and is coordinating with the security sector to ensure that these incidents are prevented at all costs and residents are kept safe and secure.

We would like to assure our countrymen that the government will exert all efforts necessary so that these peace spoilers will not succeed, and make them realize that such attacks will not dampen our collective resolve to bring just and lasting peace in the Bangsamoro.