Two Maute fighters, including a child warrior, surrendered to soldiers of the 49th “Good Samaritans” Infantry Battalion based in Butig, Lanao del Sur yesterday (January 24).
The surrender of Hussein, 17, and Ashlani, 34, came amid the focused military operations launched by the Joint Task Force ZamPeLan in the adjacent municipality of Sultan Dumalandong.
Maute brothers recruited and trained Hussein and Ashlani sometime in 2013 in Barangay Sandab, Butig.
Lieutenant Colonel Edgar Allan Villanueva, the commanding officer of the 49th Infantry Battalion, said the duo surrendered for fear that that they might be the next target of the military offensives.
“Takot kami na baka isunod nalang kami sa operation. Iniwan nalang kami ng mga leader pagkatapos nung encounter namin. Wala na rin kami matakbuhan kaya sumuko nalang kami,” said Ashlani.
The said surrender was facilitated by the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Post and the local community.
“Out here, it is not just about fighting the enemy, but it is also about winning the hearts of the people,” added Lieutenant Colonel Villanueva.
“Nung una, natatakot kami na magsurrender dahil baka saktan nila kami, pero sabi naman sa amin ng mga tao na mabait naman daw ang mga sundalo sa area. Masaya kami dahil tinatrato kami ng maayos ng ating kasundaluhan,” said Ashlani.
“Ngayon na nagsurrender na kami, makakatulog na kami at ang pamilya namin ng maayos. Kung kailangan na panagutan namin ang ginawa namin, tatanggapin namin ang kapalaran namin,” added Ashlani.
Major General Roseller Murillo, the JTF ZamPeLan Commander, said, “We also ask the local populace for their trust, support, and prayers for our troops who continue to operate in ZamPeLan area to defeat the remaining Maute fighters that threaten the safety and well-being of Meranaos.”
“This will push us more to intensify our campaign against terrorists and prevent them from committing hostilities against fellow Meranaos,” said Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega, the commander of the Western Mindanao Command. “We are motivated to continue our offensives because we know that the people of Lanao del Sur are with us in the fight against terrorism.”