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26 former terrorists finish entrepreneurship training

John Unson - Philstar.com
26 former terrorists finish entrepreneurship training
The 26 former violent religious extremists are being returned to the local communities by the 601st Infantry Brigade and the Bangsamoro government.
Philstar.com / John Unson

TACURONG CITY, Philippines — Former members of a terror-group tagged in deadly bombings in central Mindanao finished Friday a livelihood workshop as initial step towards their reintegration into the local communities.

Brig. Gen. Roy Galido, commander of the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade based in Barangay Kalandagan here, said the entrepreneurship development training was facilitated by the Bangsamoro local government ministry.

Galido said 26 now reforming erstwhile members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters benefitted from the three-day activity.

More than a dozen of them were trained in fabrication of improvised explosive devices and powerful roadside bombs, the signature weapons of the BIFF.

The training was part of the “Project Tugon,” or Tulong ng Gobyerno sa Nangangailangan initiative of the regional government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The BIFF, tagged in all deadly bombings in central Mindanao since 2013, operates in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

More than a hundred BIFF members surrendered in batches in the past eight months through the intercession of Major Gen. Juvymax Uy of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, BARMM officials and local executives in the adjoining provinces of Maguindanao and North Cotabato.

Galido and Uy on Friday separately expressed gratitude to BARMM Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo for embarking on the Project Tugon.

Project Tugon aims to hasten the return to mainstream society of former BIFF members through livelihood, psycho-social, education and other humanitarian interventions.

A number of former BIFF members who earlier surrendered to 6th ID are now thriving as farmers in their barangays, according to Uy.

“We have this open arms policy in dealing with those who are willing to avail of our local peace program for violent religious extremists,” Uy said.

Galido said they are expecting the surrender soon of more hardcore BIFF members through the efforts of their units and municipal officials helping push the 6th ID and BARMM’s joint peace programs forward.

BANGSAMORO ISLAMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERS

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