16 BIFF warriors surrender to PH Army in Maguindanao
RADJAH BUAYAN, MAGUINDANAO — Sixteen (16) members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) under Karialan faction yielded to ‘balik-loob’ joint efforts of the local government unit of Datu Abdullah Sangki (DAS) town and the 33rd Infantry (MAKABAYAN) Battalion of the Philippine Army aimed at bringing in more rebel returnees into the government side on Monday.
The Philippine Army continues to strengthen its campaign against the terror armed group through negotiation efforts on firearms surrender and community reintegration of the returnees and their families.
“We expect continuous influx of surrenderees in the unit area of operation as we sustain our campaign against the terror armed groups in collaboration with the different stakeholders especially our local leaders in this period of crisis”, said Lt. Col. Elmer M. Boongaling, commanding officer of the 33rd Infantry Battalion.
The surrenderees were from Brgy. Kapinpilan in Ampatuan town and Brgy. Kaya-kaya in DAS.
As a sign of trust to the government and the military, the returnees handed-over two (2) Sniper rifle cal. 50 Barret, two (2) Cal. 30 M1 Garand Rifle, one (1) M14 rifle, one (1) M16 Rifle, one (1) RPG with ammo, and one (1) home-made 60mm Mortar.
Firearms surrender is a crucial part of the ‘balik-loob’ process to prevent or lessen security risks of civilians. Lack of training and inaccuracies due to lack of equipment in the production of home-made mortars not only inflict casualties but likewise put unintended targets at risk including civilian populations.
DAS municipal mayor Datu Pax Ali Mangudadatu was present in the hand-over of firearms and thanked the former rebels for their decision to return to civilian life.
"We are truly grateful that you have returned your faith to our government. It also signifies your genuine intention to reunite with our nation,” said Mangudadatu.
Meanwhile, said surrenderees will undergo custodial debriefing and processing and will be endorsed to the provincial government of Maguindanao for appropriate livelihood assistance. The surrendered firearms will remain in the Battalion for safekeeping and proper disposition.
Earlier on, Boongaling hoped for an institutionalized program for BIFF returnees after some of the ‘balik-loob’ commanders called for continued government support over the weekend.