Ten members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) surrendered to government authorities in Talipao, Sulu, officials announced on Thursday.
Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, Joint Task Force (JTF)-Sulu commander, identified the ASG surrenderers as Amil Isnain Jamih, Rado Wahing, Bellor Amad, Saburani Paduh, Alvin Jakkah, Nassir Bassal, Benajar Isnari, Cisar Killih, Abdunnur Alawi, and Fradzkan Sayyadi.
Gonzales, who is also the 11th Infantry Division commander, said most of the surrenderers were followers of ASG leader Radulan Sahiron. They yielded six Garand rifles and a caliber .45 pistol.
The surrenderers were presented to the Talipao Municipal Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict (MTF-ELAC) in a simple ceremony at the Lincoln Hall in Barangay Bilaan, Talipao.
During the ceremony, the ASG returnees were acknowledged by the municipal government to undergo the ASG Reintegration Program.
The MTF-ELAC is Sulu’s counterpart to the national government’s National Task Force to End Local Armed Communist Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
To facilitate their legal documentation and eventual mainstreaming as civilians, Capt. Jemu Ramolete, Talipao police chief, issued the ASG surrenderers with a security clearance.
“These ASG Returnees is a tangible proof of our intensified campaign to free Sulu from ASG influence. This is a testament to our AFP’s commitment to win the peace. From a once lethal force, we have gone a long way to provide a non-lethal option to win the peace,” Gonzales said.
Eight of the 10 surrendered to the 2nd Special Forces Battalion (2SFBn) under Lt. Col. Benito Ramos Jr., one yielded to the 15th Civil-Military Operation (CMO) Battalion led by Lt. Col. Nelicar Corsino, and the other to the 111th Military Intelligence Company.
The municipality of Talipao said it sees the snowballing surrender of ASG members as a positive development.
“We are welcoming our brothers who have been victimized by the wrongdoings of the Abu Sayyaf Group. We are committed to end the ASGs influence in our municipality. With the strong partnership of our security forces, peace and development will reign in Talipao,” Mayor Nivocadnezar Tulawie said.
The surrenderers said they were encouraged to return to the folds of the law upon seeing that the government was sincere in its program to develop the province of Sulu
Last month, the PTF-ELAC provided 1.2 kilometers of water pipe for the construction of a water system in the conflict-affected community of Barangay Bud Bunga in Talipao. Among those who benefited from the program were families of the ASG surrenderers.
One of the surrenderers, Bellor Amad, 52, revealed that he was with the ASG for almost 20 years until he realized that he wanted to live in peace with his family.
“Sometimes the situation is good and sometimes it is difficult to be with the ASG, but then I realize that it is much better to live a free life. I am tired of fighting. I want to be with my children,” Amad said.
Another ASG surrenderer, Benajar Isnari, said he was encouraged by his son, a militiaman, to surrender to the authorities. He was forced to join the ASG due to “rido” or a clan war.
Since the operationalization of Talipao’s MTF-ELAC, the 2nd Special Forces Battalion has endorsed 36 ASG surrenderers to the task force to undergo reintegration.