Two Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) surrenderers have been offered initial assistance by the military and municipality of Talipao in the province of Sulu in order to start a new life.
The help included monetary incentives and a food package, according to Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, commander of Joint Task Force (JTF)-Sulu, who described it “as a kick start for our rebel returnees to once again live a normal life back in their community.”
Haliluddin Isniruddin, 65, and his son, Bennajar, 39, of Sitio Bud Sampul, Barangay Kulambo in Talipao, were the recipients, according to Gonzales.
The two were handed up to Gonzales and Talipao Mayor Nivocanezar Tulawie by the 2nd Special Force Battalion on Tuesday. They surrendered a Garand rifle and an M-79 grenade launcher.
According to Gonzales, the two will be enrolled in the Municipal Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict’s (MTF-ELAC) ASG returnee reintegration program, which is 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,” Gonzales told the two former bandits.
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,” he added.
The surrenderers will be given livelihood support as part of the reintegration program, allowing them to resume a decent and tranquil life with their families.
After his family became embroiled in a “rido,” or clan quarrel, Isniruddin said he was forced to join the ASG in order to have armed supporters.
He claimed, however, that he left the bandit group after the family quarrel was peacefully resolved, and that he later opted to surrender in order to start a new life.
On the other hand, his son claimed to have 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.