Saturday, May 22, 2021

8 Sayyaf terrorists yield in Sulu

SULU – Eight Abu Sayyaf terrorists surrendered to the military in the southern Philippine province of Sulu with security officials promising them livelihood aid as the government continues its effort to lure members of the dreaded pro-ISIS group to return to the fold of the law.

A military photo shows the surrendered Abu Sayyaf terrorists - their faces blurred - posing with security officials in Sulu province.


Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, commander of the 11th Infantry Division, said the terrorists surrendered voluntarily on Thursday to the 11o1st Infantry Brigade headed by Brig. Gen. Antonio Bautista. But it was only announced on Saturday for a still unknown reason.


Bautista identified the terrorists as Padding Padjiri, Ibrahim Jul Uppih, Yasser, Abraham Alawara, Adzar Karun, Dansalan Jumadil, Sahadani Murani, and Bulli Barri. He said their surrender was facilitated by members of the 2nd Special Forces, the 15th Civil Military Operations Battalion and the 100th Infantry Battalion.


Gonzales assured the terrorists that they will get the assistance that they need for them to start a new life with their family. “Napakalaki ng potential ng probinsyang ito. Kung dati halos hindi maaninaw ang kapayapaan, ngayon ay abot tanaw na. It’s just a matter of time, kung gaano tayo kabilis makakarating doon. Itong initiative niyo na magbalik loob, isa ito sa nakakapag-pabilis na makarating ang Sulu sa inaasam na kapayapaan. Kasama rin kayo sa magandang hinaharap na iyon,” he said.


The terrorists also surrendered three rifles and two pistols.


One of those who surrendered, Uppih, said he was contacted by a former Abu Sayyaf fighter - Darius - who now works as a government militia and convinced him to yield.


The 24-year old Uppih, who joined the Abu Sayyaf in 2014, was hiding in Tawi-Tawi province with his wife and 3 children after escaping military operations in Sulu, and decided to return home and surrender peacefully. “Noong panahon kasi na ‘yun tambay lang ako. Tapos sabi ng pinsan ko sumama ako sa kanya sa Abu Sayyaf para kumita ng pera. Paminsan-minsan lang naman kami naabutan, pero grabe ang paghihirap ko doon,” he told army interrogators.


Uppih said he took part in several armed clashes with security forces and even guarded kidnap victims of the Abu Sayyaf while in Sulu. While in Tawi-Tawi, Uppih said he planted bananas to be able to feed his family, but admitted living in fear.


“Noong nakabalik na ako rito (sa Sulu), grabe ang kabog ng dibdib ko kasi natatakot pa rin ako hangga’t di ako pormal na naka-surrender. Ngayon nandito na ako at Division Commander (Gonzales) mismo ang kaharap namin, makakahinga na talaga ako ng maluwag,” he said.


Tens of dozens of Abu Sayyaf have surrendered to the military in Sulu over the past years in exchange for livelihood aid and a chance to live peacefully with their loved ones, although operations against the notorious secessionist group still continue in the province where foreign ISIS soldiers are believed to be fighting alongside their local counterpart. (Mindanao Examiner)

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