6th Infantry Division to quell Maguindanao terror bloc via 'soft approach'
Major Gen. Juvymax Uy of the 6th Infantry Division is certain of the support of local officials to the 6th ID's pacification campaign in central Mindanao.
Philstar.com/John Unson

6th Infantry Division to quell Maguindanao terror bloc via 'soft approach'

John Unson (Philstar.com) - October 10, 2020 - 3:44pm

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — The military will intensify its “soft approach" to quell the bloody religious adventurism of the Dawlah Islamiya in central Mindanao, a regional Army official said Saturday.

The initiative, to focus on hostile areas in central Mindanao's neighboring Maguindanao North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat provinces, aims to duplicate the now four-year joint peace program of public officials, the police and the military in Basilan that weakened local Abu Sayyaf forces there.

Major Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said Saturday over the "Bantayan" program of Catholic station dxMS in Cotabato City that they are to expand soon the 6th ID’s humanitarian interventions meant to hasten the return to mainstream society of members of the Dawlah Islamiya in Maguindanao and nearby areas.

“It’s a kind of a `soft approach’ that can be more effective. Local officials can influence them a lot to yield and avail of reconciliation packages being offered to them," Uy said.

The Dawlah Islamiya, also known as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, or BIFF, operates in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The terror group has a reputation for bombing civilian targets to avenge deaths of members in clashes with pursuing state security forces.

“We shall need the help of local leaders in letting them return to the fold of law. I don’t believe local executives don’t know these people,” Uy announced over dxMS, the pioneer broadcast outfit in central Mindanao, operating since the 1950s.

Uy said the provincial peace and order council of Maguindanao and the local government units in the province are ready to provide Dawlah Islamiya members with livelihood, education and other psycho-social support after they have renounced their membership with the group.

“Add to that other forms of assistance from the government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” Uy said.

No fewer than 200 Dawlah Islamiya members in Maguindanao and North Cotabato surrendered in batches since 2017 through the intercession of local officials and units of 6th ID.

“Those who intend to surrender will be given more comprehensive support needed to start life all over again, just like how leaders in Basilan returned former Abu Sayyaf terrorists to the local communities,” Uy said.

Uy was a colonel yet and  commander of the Army’s 101st Brigade when he supported the peace efforts of Basilan Gov. Jim Salliman and House Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman, congressional representative of the island province, who both worked out the surrender of more than 200 local Abu Sayyaf bandits from between 2016 to early this year.

Uy, who assumed as 6th ID commander only last September, said the division will also need the support of BARMM in fostering peace in the bastions of the Dawlah Islamiya in Maguindanao’s adjoining Datu Saudi, Shariff Aguak, Datu Unsay, Mamasapano and Datu Salibo towns.

The Dawlah Islamiya, or BIFF, was founded in 2011 by Ustadz Ameril Ombra Kato, who started as commander of the 105th Base Command in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Kato, who studied Islamic theology in Saudi Arabia in the 1970s, got booted from the MILF for violating the group’s revolutionary policies and other serious offenses.

He died about five years ago after a hypertensive stroke that paralyzed half of his body.

Uy said he is thankful to the Bangsamoro government for helping former Dawlah Islamiya members through socio-economic support from its Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence, or READI contingent, under the region’s local government minister, lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo.

The office of Sinarimbo is also helping capacitate former Dawlah Islamiya bandits for them to have sources of income, either as farmers or fishermen, through BARMM’s Tulong ng Gobyerno para sa Nangangailangan, or TUGON project.

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