SOME 44 leaders and followers of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) laid down their arms and returned to the folds of the law in North Cotabato, the military reported Wednesday, December 14, 2022.

Major General Roy Galido, Joint Task Force (JTF)-Central commander, said the 44 BIFF members surrendered on Friday, December 9, to Colonel Donald Gumiran, 602nd Infantry Brigade acting commander, at the 90th Infantr

y Battalion (IB) headquarters based in Lower Pataan village, Kabacan, Cotabato.

Galido said they also handed over 34 assorted firearms and high explosive ammunition.

Gumiran identified the surrendered personalities as officers and members of the BIFF-Karialan Faction.

“Among those who surrendered is the Battalion Commander of the group, Esmael Aman; the Secretary, Joel Pasco; three junior officers; seven bombers; and other members,” Gumiran said.

He lauded the collaborative efforts of the 90IB led by Lieutenant Colonel Rommel Mundala; 1st Scout Ranger Battalion led by Lieutenant Colonel Raymond Rapi; 33rd Infantry Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Cadiente, Jr.; the intelligence units operating in Central Mindanao; the local government units; other stakeholders; and the peace-loving citizens of Cotabato who made the surrender of the 44 BIFF leaders and members possible.

During the debriefing, Aman revealed that they decided to end their armed struggle because they regained trust and confidence in the government.

“They believe that through the reintegration programs implemented by the national and local governments, they will be able to reunite with their families and be productive citizens of their respective communities,” Gumiran said.

Meanwhile, Brigadier General Arturo Rojas, acting commander of Western Mindanao Command, commended the troops of JTF-Central led by Galido for their steadfast resolve to employ both lethal and non-lethal operations to win peace in their area of operation.

“The remarkable accomplishments we have achieved in the campaign against terrorism and insurgency can be attributed to good governance and strong collaboration. Our unified efforts led to numerous successes; hence if we sustain this momentum, we will soon achieve the lasting peace we all long for,” Rojas said. (SunStar Zamboanga)