John Unson – Philstar.com
October 7, 2023 | 5:39pm
The latest Abu Sayyaf group to yield in Basilan is composed of 14 men from across the island province.
Philstar.com / John Unson
COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Officials on Saturday assured to cooperate in reintegrating to mainstream society the 14 Abu Sayyaf terrorists who surrendered last Wednesday in Basilan through the intercession of local executives and Army officials in the province.
Brig. Gen. Alvin Luzon of the Army’s 101st Infantry Brigade securing Basilan’s two cities and 11 towns told reporters Saturday they are grateful to the Bangsamoro local government ministry and Gov. Jim Salliman for committing to provide the 14 erstwhile Abu Sayyaf members with relief and socio-economic interventions essential to their reintroduction into the local communities.
The group surrendered and pledged allegiance to the government through the backchannel efforts of units under Luzon and members of the multi-sector Basilan Provincial Peace and Order Council led by Salliman, now in his third and last term as provincial governor.
Bangsamoro Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo said Saturday they can enroll the 14 former Abu Sayyaf members into their Tulong ng Gobyernong Nagmamalasakit, or Project Tugon, that provides livelihood skills training, religious reorientation and even shelter to former enemies of state.
“We have a partnership with the security sector in implementing Project Tugon,” Sinarimbo told reporters Saturday, responding to queries on how the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao can help the 14 former terrorists.
The group turned in more than a dozen firearms, including grenade launchers and components for improvised explosive devices before renouncing their membership with the Abu Sayyaf during a symbolic rite Wednesday at the headquarters of the 101st Infantry Brigade in Barangay Tabiawan in Isabela City in Basilan, in the presence of Major Gen. Ignatius Patrimonio, commander of the military’s anti-terror Task Force Orion that has units in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
Officials of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division at Camp Siongco in Maguindanao del Norte and the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region said Saturday the MILG-BARMM’s Project Tugon had assisted no fewer than 600 former members of the Abu Sayyaf, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Dawlah Islamiya who had surrendered to their units in the past eight months.
Bangsamoro regional police director Brig. Gen. Allan Nobleza said among the tie-up projects of PRO-BAR, the military’s Western Mindanao Command and the MILG-BARMM is the ongoing construction in Barangay Langhub in Patikul, Sulu of a P25 million worth reformatory center for former Abu Sayyaf members.
“We are thankful to the provincial government of Basilan and the officials of the Army brigade in that island province for securing the surrender of 14 more Abu Sayyaf members there. We in PRO-BAR shall help return them to their hometowns where they can thrive in peace,” Nobleza said.