THREE members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), who are cousins of the slain emir of the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria (Isis) for Southeast Asia Isnilon Hapilon, surrendered on Tuesday as the government continues its offensive against the terrorist group in Basilan province.
Colonel Juvymax Uy, Joint Task Force Basilan commander, identified the three surrenderers as Ben Salim Sapilin alias "Ben Bilog," 52; Ramil Ben Sapilin alias "Attik," 23; and Mohammad Endeng alias "Aburayhan," 22.
Uy said they surrendered to the Army’s 74th Infantry Battalion headed by Lieutenant Colonel Jonas Templo around 4 p.m. Tuesday in the village of Macalang, Al-Barka, Basilan.
Uy, who is also the Army’s 104th Infantry Brigade commander, said the three men are cousins of Hapilon, who was killed together with Omar Maute in an early morning firefight on Monday in Marawi City.
Hapilon was one of the five Basilan-based ASG leaders indicted in absentia by the United States government for their involvement in the Dos Palmas kidnapping on May 27, 2001.
The Rewards For Justice Program of the U.S. State Department offered up to $5 million (approximately P256 million at the time of his death) for information leading to his capture.
Uy said the Hapilon’s relatives were placed under custodial debriefing facilitated by the intelligence operatives of the Army’s 74th Infantry Battalion.
Hapilon’s relatives surrendered on the day President Rodrigo Duterte announced that the government offensive will shift against the ASG in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
The surrender of Hapilon's kin has brought the total number of ASG surrenderers to 123 since January 2017.
Of the total, 68 surrendered in Basilan, 32 in Sulu, 21 in Tawi-Tawi, and two in Zamboanga City.