Aging Abu Sayyaf leader plans to surrender

ZAMBOANGA CITY – A top military official disclosed that Abu Sayyaf one-armed and senior leader Radullan Sahiron plans to surrender to the government.

“Radullan Sahiron is contemplating to surrender because he is old,” Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) said.

Galvez told the Philippines News Agency that one of the conditions of Sahiron is for the government “not to turn him over to the U.S. government” when he surrenders.

Sahiron is the leading figurehead of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the province of Sulu after most of the founding leaders of the ASG were killed.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has set a million reward for the capture of Sahiron.

“We see that not only those in the lower ranks of the ASG are expressing their desire to surrender because they’re​already feeling ​the heat of the military operation. And they also feel the sincerity of the President to accept people who wanted to surrender,” Galvez said.

Galvez said they were employing “non-lethal” approach in addressing the problem of the Abu Sayyaf. Among which is to open a rehabilitation program.

He said they are replicating this approach from their military counterparts in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Galvez said the same tactic was used in “decimating” the networks of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

He said the rehabilitation for the Abu Sayyaf is not just open to the least members.

“Even hardcore members are allowed to be rehabilitated. Alternative options are open to them. We might resolve the problem of the Abu Sayyaf Group peacefully,” he said.

“We know the story of the prodigal son…We should not closed​ the door for those who want to have a new beginning,” Galvez said.

The total number of surrendered Abu Sayyaf members has reached 16, following the order of President Rodrigo Duterte to finish off the Abu Sayyaf in six-month period. The deadline will lapse on June 30.

There are over 40 Abu Sayyaf members who have been killed in the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi since January.

On Thursday, April 13, Galvez presented to the local media the 11 Abu Sayyaf bandits, including two sub-leaders, who surrendered to the government in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi.

Ben Saudi Sariol, one of the 11 surrenderers, said they decided to surrender to the military as the offensive against the Abu Sayyaf have intensified in recent months.

“We just want a peaceful life. We want our children to go to school, and earn a decent living. We feel much safer​now,” Sariol said in Tausug dialect.

Ben, along with his father Berong Sariol and nine other relatives, surrendered to the troops under the Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi at the Marine Barracks Domingo Deluana in Barangay Sanga-Sanga, Bongao, Tawi-Tawi on Tuesday night.

They also surrendered their firearms to the military.

Galvez said they would provide small amount to the surrenderers for livelihood.

“The rehabilitation of the ASG is open. We know there also people who are ready to surrender,” Galvez said.

Galvez said the military was coordinating with other government agencies to come up with a program to rehabilitate the surrendered members of the Abu Sayyaf. Darwin Wally Wee/PNA-northboundasia.com