By Francis Wakefield
The sight of the installed solar-powered lamps in his village had convinced a child warrior to surface and lay down his weapon in Maguindanao late afternoon on Saturday (January 26), the military disclosed Sunday.
‘Tigre’, 15, remained hiding in the past two weeks despite the surrender of his relatives after years of eluding the security forces who were sent to arrest them. He said that the lights coming from the solar lamp posts convinced him to follow the path towards peace.
“Bearing solar-powered flash lights and lamp posts, soldiers came to the village of my relatives to help them. I realized that they were not interested in killing us all,” said Tigre in Maguindanaon dialect.
The surrender of Tigre happened at least an hour after soldiers of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion installed solar lights in Pedtad village, a fishing village near the Liguasan Marsh.
Lt. Col. Harold M Cabunoc, the Commanding Officer of the 33rd IB, personally received the Rocket-propelled Grenade launcher that was handed over by Tigre in Makainis village here.
“You have made the right decision in laying down your weapon. There is no more reason to fight after the overwhelming victory of the Bangsamoro Organic Law ‘Yes’ vote,” Cabunoc said.
Tigre belongs to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) faction of Commander Mayo Gantong Bansil, the leader of the outlawed armed group who had been involved in atrocities against government troops in the past five years.
Cabunoc said that more and more members of the ‘peace spoilers’ have decided to cooperate with the government.
“The influx of surrenders reflects the high level of trust that we gained in Central Mindanao. With popular support, we will always prevail against any adversary,” said Cabunoc.
Major General Cirilito Sobejana, the Commander of the 6th Infantry Division, has directed the subordinate commanders to sustain the gains on the ground.
“We must endeavor to reduce the armed groups through negotiations and focused military operations. This is our platform in turning the Liguasan Marsh from ‘Terrorism to Tourism’ and from a ‘Battlefield to an Oilfield’ area,” Sobejana,who is a Medal for Valor awardee, said.