Nine (9) members of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) surrendered to the security forces in General Salipada K. Pendatun (GSKP), Maguindanao on Friday (October 26).
The rebels under Commander Banog, a prominent BIFF field commander in the area of GSKP surrendered to the troops of the 33rd Infantry Battalion.
Commander Banog arranged a meeting with 33IB commander Lieutenant Colonel Harold M. Cabunoc last Saturday (October 20) to formalize their surrender.
Commander Banog said in their meeting that his family members were instrumental in convincing him to finally surface in the name of peace.
The successful surrender was made possible through the unified efforts of the 33IB, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (CIDG-ARMM), and 4th Special Action Battalion.
The former rebels handed over nine high-powered firearms including two Caliber 50 Sniper Rifles, three Rocket-Propelled Grenade Launchers, one Caliber 5.56mm M653 Assault Rifle, one Caliber 7.62mm M14 Rifle, and two 40mm M79 Grenade Launchers.
It can be recalled that the same military and police units also netted four high-powered firearms and arrested four BIFF suspects in a raid against Commander Banog’s group in Lumabao Village last October 17, 2018.
Colonel Robert Dauz, commander of the 1st Mechanized Infantry (Maaasahan) Brigade, personally welcomed the new batch of BIFF surrenderors at his camp in Kalandagan Village, Tacurong City.
“I am very delighted because we have freed another village from the claws of BIFF armed groups. This event will enable the Army to facilitate the normalization of former armed- conflict affected areas,” said Colonel Dauz.
The provincial government of Maguindanao led by Governor Esmael ‘Toto’ Mangudadatu has initiated a mainstreaming project that will assist former BIFF rebels in returning to their communities.
Congressman Zajid ‘Dong’ Mangudadatu offers Php20,000.00 cash assistance to all militants who will lay down their firearms.
Major General Cirilito Sobejana commended the peacemaking initiatives of the 33IB. He said that the acme of generalship is winning the war without using violence.
“Sustained military operation conducted by the 6th Infantry Division under MGen Sobejana is compelling the militants to just give up their fight, save their lives, and start anew,” said LtGen Arnel B. Dela Vega of the Western Mindanao Command.