FOURTEEN followers of the Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) have surrendered amid the government’s intensified counter-terrorism campaign coupled with the reported death of their leader, the military said Thursday, October 5, 2023.
Brigadier General Alvin Luzon, commander of the Basilan-based 101st Infantry Brigade, said the 14 ASG bandits have surrendered on Wednesday through the collaborative efforts of local government units (LGUs), security sector and the community.
Luzon said the 14 ASG surrenderers were followers of Basilan-based ASG leader Pasil Bayali, who reportedly succumbed to death due to the wounds he incurred in earlier skirmishes with government troops.
Colonel Frederick Sales, then acting commander of the 101st Infantry Brigade, earlier said Bayali was wounded when troops overran an ASG encampment in Sitio Lobloban Guiong village, Sumisip, Basilan on June 3, 2023.
The ASG surrenderers were identified as the following: Absar Amana; Najer Lakibul; Etang Awal; Masber Hoben; Tot Awal; Omar Salim Awal; Omar Kabak; Rey Sakilan; Marjim Barillo; Hariya Palinta; Puran Abuhon; Aksan Mijan; Alias Abu Ngut; and, Alias Abu Matsur.
Luzon presented them to Major General Ignatius Patrimonio, Joint Task Force (JTF)-Orion commander, when the latter visited Camp Luis Biel II that houses the headquarters of the 101st Infantry Brigade in Tabiawan village, Isabela City, Basilan province.
“The loss of their significant leader had thrown them into disarray, forcing them to bend over to the folds of the law,” Luzon said.
They also handed over a total of 13 high powered firearms, which includes five M-16 Armalite rifles, one M653 rifle, two M-14 rifles, one Garand rifle, two M-79 grenade launchers, and two 9-millimeter Intratec TEC-KG9 assault rifles.
Luzon said the voluntary surrender of the 14 ASG bandits demonstrated the success of collaboration among LGUs, security sector, and the communities.
He said the former ASG bandits are under social and economic pressure from the sustained countering and preventing violent extremism efforts of the government, whose main desires for the island are peace and prosperity for the Basileños.
As part of the reintegration program, they will go through the standard deradicalization process before being reintegrated into society and enjoying the peaceful ways of life.
They are also eligible to receive cash assistance through the government’s Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-Clip) to help them transition back to normal life.
Patrimonio lauded the collaborative efforts of the military units, LGUs, private sectors and communities of Basilan.
“We will remain steadfast in fostering peace and sustainable development in the province, we will work as one to make Basilan free from terrorism,” Patrimonio added.
Luzon urged remaining ASG members who have been evading government forces to follow in the paths of their comrades who have chosen to walk on the path to peace and development.
"We welcome all FVEs (former violent extremists) who have decided to value their own and their families' lives. Be assured that we will help them reintegrate into mainstream society," Luzon added.
Major General Steve Crespillo, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, commended the JTF-Orion for the influx of ASG surrenders in Basilan Province.
“Rest assured that our troops will continue to employ the whole-of-nation approach to eradicate terrorism and we are able to transform Mindanao into a better place to live in,” Crespillo added. (SunStar Zamboanga)