CAMP NAVARRO, Zamboanga City –- Twenty members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) surrendered and turned over eight high-powered firearms to the government on Thursday in Basilan province, a military official announced.
Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) spokesperson, said the surrenderers are led by ASG sub-leader Katatong Balaman alias Tatong.
Tan said the group of Balaman surrendered to Col. Thomas Donato Jr., Army’s 104th Infantry Brigade commander, and Mayor Gulam Hataman of Sumisip, Basilan.
The Sumisip-based Army’s 64th Infantry Battalion facilitated the surrender of Balaman’s group in a ceremony held at the town hall of Sumisip.
Tan said the group of Balaman also turned over two locally-made shotguns aside from the eight high-powered firearms.
Donato said the group of Tatong is responsible for several ambuscades and skirmishes against the government troops, particularly in Barangays Sukaten and Baiwas in the municipality of Sumisip.
“This is the result of the relentless operation we are conducting where they suffered lots of casualties. These Abu Sayyafs now fear for their lives, leading to the surrender,” Donato said.
The government troops have overran in August the Abu Sayyaf stronghold in Barangay Baguindan, Tipo-Tipo.
On Sunday, ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman led the conduct of medical and dental outreach mission dubbed as “Peoples Day in Barangay Baguindan.
Thousands of residents benefited from the outreach mission. The ARMM also distributed relief packs to the residents in the area.
“We are very open to surrenderees. We want to end this war in peace and pave the way for development in Basilan,” Donato added.
Hataman said they believed there are still other ASG members who are willing to surrender and return to the fold of law.
“It’s time to end this terrorist problem in our country. We want to make Basilan a peaceful place to live so that development will prosper. We are closely working with the AFP to decimate all these terrorist groups,” Hataman said. Ely Dumaboc/PNA/northboundasia.com