By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News
Posted at 09/23/2013 2:13 PM | Updated as of 09/23/2013 2:53 PM

MANILA – A teacher taken hostage by alleged members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Midsayap, North Cotabato has been freed while negotiations are ongoing for the release of the other BIFF hostages, Malacañang said Monday.
 
Quoting AFP spokesperson Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said a firefight between the military and alleged BIFF members has also stopped.
 
“Meron pong apat na hostages po. Ang nangyari po doon… may negotiations taking place right now according to Lt. Col. Zagala and doon po sa apat na hostages, isa po ay na-release na po. ‘Yung isang guro ay na-release na po… The negotiations done by the barangay chairman… Negotiations are underway. Wala na pong firefight ngayon doon,” Lacierda said.

Zagala said soldiers conducting combat-clearing operations encountered the alleged BIFF members in Sitio Mirasol, Barangay Pulumugin, Midsayap, North Cotabato at around 8:35 a.m. Monday.

One solider died and another one was wounded in the firefight, Zagala said. 

“So far, we have encountered one fatality and one wounded. Reportedly, the BIFFs earlier harassed CVO (Civilian Volunteer Organizations) in Barangay Rangaban 3, Midsayap, North Cotabato,” he said in a text message read by Lacierda. 

Lacierda could not say yet if the attack in Midsayap is related to the attack staged by Moro National Liberation Front forces in Zamboanga City but said that government has enough resources to handle the situation in both places. 

Meantime, the Palace said that President Aquino continues to have trust and confidence in the AFP leadership amid the recent attacks.  

“Nakita po natin ang tugon ng Armed Forces for the Philippines. Handa po sila tumugon doon sa nangyari dito sa Zamboanga City at ngayon po ay handa rin po silang tumugon at in fact, natigil na po ang firefight dito sa BIFF. There is no problem insofar as the leadership of the chief of staff, General Manny Bautista. The President has full confidence in him,” Lacierda said.