By Nonoy E. Lacson
Zamboanga City – About 150 members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) have surrendered to the military following sustained surgical military operations by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WestMinCom) last year.
AFP-WestMinCom Commander Lt. Gen. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., said the military here has recorded 144 members of the ASG who have surrendered as a result of the substantial pressure to finish-off the ASG who are holding camps in the forested areas of Zamboanga City, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.
“This massive surrender is ascribed to the relentless operations of our troops on the ground and the robust support of the people of Mindanao, especially our local chief executives who are now involved in our fight against decades-long internal aggression on the islands,” Galvez said.
AFP-WestMinCom statistics showed that last year, 77 ASG terrorists have yielded to the military in Basilan, 53 in Sulu, and 21 in Tawi-Tawi.
For this month alone, four ASG members, three in Sulu province and one in Basilan province surrendered to the Joint Task Forces under the AFP-WestMinCom and turned over three high-powered firearms.
On January 21, 2018, 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 ASG sub-leader Idang Susukan, while Majan is a follower of ASG sub-leader Maradjan Hadjiri. They also surrendered two M1 Garand rifles and an M16 rifle.
“We urge members of the ASG to return to the fold of the law and live a normal life,” Galvez said.
“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 old ways,” Galvez added.
According to Galvez, the AFP-WestMinCom, through its JTF 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 ASG returnees.
The activity intends to provide the returnees with an avenue for personal, spiritual, values formation and the opportunity to gain new experiences, he said.
The tour also seeks to provide exposure to the returnees’ progressive communities outside Basilan Province; create positive disposition among the returnees through leisure and other activities; foster cohesion and team spirit; and reinforce positive and moderate view of Islam, the AFP-WestMinCom commander added.