A member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) involved in the Sipadan mass kidnapping 20 years ago has surrendered to government authorities in the province of Tawi-Tawi, military officials announced on Friday.
Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), identified the ASG surrenderer as Barri Lakibol, 44, who carries the aliases of Barley Badeng, Otoh Itom, and Robin.
Vinluan said Lakibol surrendered and turned over a US-made M-14 rifle with ammunition on Wednesday at the headquarters of the Marine Battalion Landing Team-12 (MBLT-12) led by Lt. Col. Henry Espinosa in Barangay Nalil, Bongao, the capital of Tawi-Tawi province.
Vinluan said Lakibol was recruited by the late Sulu-based ASG leader Ghalib Andang alias Commander Robot in January 2000 and was involved in the Sipadan mass kidnapping in the same year.
The ASG bandits seized 21 people, mostly European tourists, from the dive resort island of Sipadan, Malaysia on April 23, 2000 and herded them to the province of Sulu.
The hostages were freed in batches after alleged payment of a huge amount of ransom.
Vinluan said Lakibol was also involved in the kidnapping of 12 Filipino evangelists led by Pastor Wilde Almeda, whose group went to the ASG lair for prayer healing and to comfort the hostages taken from Sipadan dive resort.
He said during the debriefing, Lakibol revealed that he left the ASG in 2006 due to the intensified offensives launched by the military, which resulted in the neutralization of prominent ASG personalities in the province of Sulu.
Lakibol will be turned over to the municipal government of Bongao for his enrolment to the reintegration programs of the government. SOVEREIGNPH