Officials Vow Help in Reintegration of Former Abu Sayyaf Members


The latest Abu Sayyaf members to yield in Basilan is composed of 14 men from across the island province. (Contributed Photo)

COTABATO CITY – Officials on Saturday vowed to help in the reintegration to mainstream society the 14 Abu Sayyaf Group members who surrendered in Basilan last Wednesday.

Brig. Gen. Alvin Luzon of the Army’s 101st Infantry Brigade on Saturday said they are grateful to the Bangsamoro local government ministry and Gov. Jim Salliman for committing to provide the 14 erstwhile Abu Sayyaf members with socio-economic interventions essential to their reintroduction into the local communities.

The group surrendered and pledged allegiance to the government through the backchannel efforts of units under Luzon and members of the multi-sector Basilan Provincial Peace and Order Council led by Salliman.

Bangsamoro Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo said Saturday they can enroll the 14 former Abu Sayyaf members into their Tulong ng Gobyernong Nagmamalasakit or Project Tugon.

Under the program, Sinarimbo said, the former ASG members will receive livelihood skills training, religious reorientation, and even shelter.

“We have a partnership with the security sector in implementing Project Tugon,” Sinarimbo told reporters Saturday, responding to queries on how the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) can help the 14 former terrorists.

The group turned in more than a dozen firearms, including grenade launchers and components for improvised explosive devices before renouncing their membership with the Abu Sayyaf during a symbolic rite Wednesday at the headquarters of the 101st Infantry Brigade in Barangay Tabiawan in Isabela City in Basilan.

Major Gen. Ignatius Patrimonio, commander of the military’s anti-terror Task Force Orion that has units in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, witnessed the ceremony.

Project Tugon had assisted no fewer than 600 former members of the Abu Sayyaf, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Dawlah Islamiya in the past eight months.

Brig. Gen. Allan Nobleza, chief of Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (PRO-BAR) said among the tie-up projects of PRO-BAR, the military’s Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) and MILG-BARMM is the on-going construction in Barangay Langhub in Patikul, Sulu of a P25 million worth reformatory center for former Abu Sayyaf members.

“We are thankful to the provincial government of Basilan and the officials of the Army brigade in that island province for securing the surrender of 14 more Abu Sayyaf members there. We in PRO-BAR shall help return them to their hometowns where they can live in peace,” Nobleza said. (John Felix Unson)

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