ZAMBOANGA CITY – The military and municipality of Talipao in the province of Sulu have given initial assistance to two Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) surrenderers to start a new life.
Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, Joint Task Force (JTF)-Sulu commander, said Wednesday the aid included cash incentives and food package “as a kick start for our rebel returnees to once again live a normal life back in their community”.
Gonzales identified the recipients as Haliluddin Isniruddin, 65; and, his son, Bennajar, 39, of Sitio Bud Sampul, Barangay Kulambo in Talipao.
The two surrendered Tuesday to the 2nd Special Force Battalion and were presented to Gonzales and Talipao Mayor Nivocanezar Tulawie. They turned over an M-79 grenade launcher and a Garand rifle.
Gonzales said the two will be enrolled in the ASG returnee reintegration program of the Municipal Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict (MTF-ELAC), the local counterpart of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
“We have this program with local government unit that gives a lot of opportunities for you to start anew. With our sustained efforts, the downfall of the ASG is inevitable. We will continue our concerted efforts to achieve our short and long-term goals. I hope that other members would also come forward and free themselves from fear that they may be reported to government forces or they might be tracked down by their former comrades,” Gonzales told the two former bandits.
The reintegration program includes the grant of livelihood assistance that will enable the surrenderers to start a normal and peaceful life together with their families.
Isniruddin said he was forced to join the ASG to have armed allies after his family got involved in a “rido” or clan feud.
However, he said he left the bandit group when the family feud was peacefully settled and later on decided to surrender to lead a new life.
His son, on the other hand, said he joined the ASG as a food courier.
“I decided to surrender since life is not good with the ASG,” he said.
The two were followers of Radulan Sahiron, the one-armed and oldest ASG leader based in Sulu.
“I commend all units and Municipal Task Force in Ending Local Armed Conflict (MTF-ELAC) for actively reaching out to our brothers who now want to start a new life,” Gonzales said. (PNA)