‘Ex-Abu Sayyaf bandits frontliners in fight vs COVID’
John Unson (The Philippine Star) - April 5, 2020 - 12:00am

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Abu Sayyaf bandits in Basilan are ”silent frontliners” in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Basilan.

According to reports reaching the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) regional office, some of the former bandits are volunteer watchmen in several barangays and are helping man quarantine checkpoints in far-flung areas.

In Sumisip town, a number of former Abu Sayyaf bandits are helping barangay officials monitor elderly and sick residents even before the COVID pandemic erupted.

“It is touching to hear stories about how they have become part of the mainstream society and are helping the government fight an unseen enemy, the COVID-19,” Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana of the Western Mindanao Command said of the former bandits.

There are 7,584 persons under monitoring and 228 persons under investigation for the flu virus in the BARMM.

Employees of the Sumisip municipal office and Basilan provincial government are extending relief services to residents of remote areas, also with the assistance of former Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Surrenderees are helping in relief operations in Al-Barka, according to the provincial peace and order council.

The formerAbu Sayyaf bandits are beneficiaries of the Program Against Violent Extremism, which aims to attain lasting peace in the region.

Former governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao led the launch of the program last year.            

ABU SAYYAF
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