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148 Abu Sayyaf members have surrendered since last year —WesMinCom

A total of 148 Abu Sayyaf members from Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi have surrendered to the government since last year, the Western Mindanao Command said Thursday.

Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command, said they ascribe the massive surrender to the relentless operations of the troops on the ground and the robust support of the people of Mindanao.

“Especially our local chief executives that are now involved in our fight against decades-long internal aggression on the islands,” he said in a press statement.

From January 1 to December 31, 2017, a total of 70 Abu Sayyaf bandits yielded to the troops in Basilan, 53 in Sulu, and 21 in Tawi-Tawi.

On January 21, 2018, four Abu Sayyaf members, including three in Sulu and one in Basilan, surrendered to the Joint Task Forces under the WestMinCom.

The three were identified as Reymal Abe Majan, 23; Tarun Uhad Ismael, 63; and Makdar Jikiri, 25, yielded to Captain John Armand Guevarra of the 2nd Special Forces Battalion, Special Forces Regiment (Airborne) in Barangay Kanaway, Parang, Sulu.

Ismael and Jikiri are followers of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Idang Susukan, while Majan is a follower of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Maradjan Hadjiri.

They also surrendered two M1 Garand rifles and an M16 rifle.

Government troops recovered three high-powered firearms of the Abu Sayyaf from January 1 to 23, 2018.

Galvez encouraged other Abu Sayyaf members to surrender.

“The government in coordination with the Ulama has prepared rehabilitation programs to those who have surrendered to ensure that they do not go back to their ill beliefs,” he said.

He said this January, the WesMinCom through its Joint Task Force Basilan, in collaboration with Balay Mindanaw, ARMM, Eisenhower Fellowship Association US Embassy, and Nagdilaab Foundation Inc conducted an "Expository Tour" under the ASG Returnees Rehabilitation Program (ARRP) for 40 Basilan Abu Sayyaf surrenderers.

He said the activity intends to provide the surrenderers an avenue for personal, spiritual, values formation and the opportunity to gain new experiences.

The tour also seeks to expose to the surrenderers to progressive communities outside Basilan Province; create positive disposition among the surrenderers through leisure and other activities; foster cohesion and team spirit; and reinforce positive and moderate view of Islam.

“This program will set as a pioneering model similar to the NPA returnees Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP),” Galvez said.

He said all surrenderers will also undergo the same program to ensure that they will be fully integrated and mainstreamed as productive members of their community. —KG, GMA News