4 IS-linked BIFF leaders surrender to Army
Updated @ 12:54 a.m., Dec. 21, 2019
COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao — After months of running away from intense military pursuit operations, four subleaders of the Islamic State (IS)-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) surrendered to authorities on Dec. 19.
Maj. Gen. Diosdado Carreon, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division and chief of Joint Task Force Central (JTFC), said the BIFF subleaders belonged to the faction led by Sheik Esmail Abubakar, alias “Commander Bungos,” whose forces are concentrated in Maguindanao’s marshland communities.
They voluntarily surrendered to the Army’s 34th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Indatuan in Northern Kabuntalan town, said Carreon.
He identified the BIFF fighters as Ibrahim Odin, Diya Musa, Daud Paglas and Yasser Abunawas.
Odin is said to handle a BIFF brigade; Musa leads a battalion; Paglas takes charge of administrative tasks; and Abunawas oversees operations.
The group turned over one .50-cal. Barrett sniper rifle, one M16 rifle, one rocket-propelled grenade launcher, one improvised explosive device, and pieces of ammunition.
“We are tired of running from helicopter attacks, artillery fires; we have no peace of mind. Our decision is voluntary,” Odin told military officials during a debriefing prior to their formal surrender.
More than 20 BIFF midlevel commanders and members have already surrendered to the government since 2017 and were enrolled with the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.
Carreon explained that while the government is using its military might to run after the IS militants and solve the problem, it remained open for reconciliation even to hard-core members of outlawed groups.
“The military encourages even hard-core fighters to surrender to government troops for a chance to rebuild their lives as we are serious in extending peaceful mechanisms to those who contemplate to turn themselves in,” Carreon said.
“Peace entails inclusive and participative solutions that we deem it necessary to involve and convince rebels to return to the fold of the law,” Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said in a statement.
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