Tired of fighting for a futile cause, three members of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) operating in the province have peacefully yielded to officials in Midsayap, North Cotabao, the military said Thursday.
Colonel Joven Gonzales, the Army’s 602nd Brigade (Bde) commander, said alias “Tongi” and his two comrades, also identified only through their aliases “Shocks” and “Marco,” surrendered before their headquarters in Barangay Salunayan on Wednesday afternoon.
“The trio also turned in two Barret sniper rifles and a 60 mm mortar launching pad,” Gonzales said.
He said the surrenderers all looked very exhausted and were yearning to see their families again soonest.
In a phone patch interview by reporters, Tongi said they will never go back to being rebels again.
“Gusto na naming mamuhay ng mapayapa kasama ang aming pamilya at mahal sa buhay (We desire to live peacefully with our families and loved ones),” he said.
Gonzales said Lt. Colonel Vilchez, the Army’s 34th Infantry Battalion commander, initiated the negotiation for the trio’s surrender.
Both Gonzales and Vilchez presented the surrenderers to Midsayap Mayor Romeo Araña also on Wednesday.
The mayor vowed to facilitate the three former rebels’ reintegration into mainstream society.
Araña said he is also currently coordinating with officials of the Bangsamoro Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to provide livelihood assistance to former Moro combatants like BIFF members who have opted to surrender peacefully.
The mayor, together with the two military officials, also lauded the participation of local Moro Islamic Liberation Front field commander Abdullah Dats in convincing the surrendering BIFF combatants to start normal lives anew.
More than 100 BIFF fighters have surrendered to the 6ID since September last year.