Moro extremists drop guns, yield to Army in Maguindanao
SULTAN KUDARAT, Maguindanao — Seven Moro extremists have surrendered to military authorities in Maguindanao claiming they were convinced by former colleagues who gave up their links to terrorism.
The surrenderees were all members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a group affiliated with the Islamic State.
They were presented by Lt. Colonel Nathaniel Balintong, commander of the Army’s 92nd Infantry Battalion, to Colonel Leodivic Guinid, commander of the First Brigade Combat Team, during ceremonies here on Monday afternoon.
The BIFF gunmen, according to Balintong, were previously operating in the towns of Datu Salibo, Sultan Mastura, and Sultan Kudarat, all in Maguindanao.
Lawyer Cyrus Torreña, Maguindanao provincial administrator, Sultan Kudarat Mayor Tocao Mastura, Sultan Mastura Mayor Datu Rauf Mastura and Datu Salibo municipal secretary Unson Demaguil witnessed the ceremonies.
“We were convinced by how our former comrades who surrendered earlier are now living normal and happy lives,” said one of the former BIFF gunmen who asked to withhold his name.
Guinid lauded the BIFF surrenderees and urged other gunmen still in the marshland of Maguindanao to take advantage of the government’s reconciliation program aimed at improving their lives and the community they live in.
“If there’s no security, there’s no progress,” Guinid said, adding that the rebels’ decision to surrender was “a step forward in having this economic progress in our midst in Maguindanao.”
The rebels turned in seven firearms, including a home-made cal. 50 sniper rifle, and ammunition.
To date, the military listed 132 former BIFF rebels who have surrendered to the government through the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.