100 Sulu Abus yield

About 100 members of the terrorist organization Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) have surrendered under the Balik-Loob Program of the provincial government of Sulu, Governor Abdusakur Tan said yesterday.

Security forces, as well as provincial and national agencies, assisted the surrender of the ASG fighters who availed themselves of the local Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) at the Sulu provincial capitol gym.

Turning their back on extremism, the ex-ASG members turned over their weapons to authorities.

Governor Tan, who chairs the local ECLIP, said those who surrendered have renounced the armed struggle and renewed their pledge of allegiance to the country.

The 19 town mayors of Sulu also vowed to help in reintegrating the surrenderers into mainstream society.

Witnessing the surrender were Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos, Philippine National Police (PNP) officer-in-charge P/Lt. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr.

The ex-members of the ASG received, among other benefits, P5,000 in cash, inclusion in the government’s summer job program with a pledge of P5,000 as an incentive per month, and for minor members, enrolment in the alternative learning system.

“Their surrender is a milestone, but we need to prepare ourselves to make things work for them,” the PNP acting chief said, adding that time will show that the ASG members’ decision to go back to the folds of the law was a prudent choice.

“We must make sure that they feel that the government is capable of helping them survive and thrive in life. The PNP has this innate task to keep them away from harm, so with the rest of our countrymen,” Danao said.

He added that the PNP is in constant coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other law enforcement units to monitor the movements of existing rebel and terror groups in Sulu and other identified “red” zones.

Paula Antolin

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