COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Eight more gunmen renounced Friday their membership with the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom and pledged allegiance to the government.
Two from the eight BIFF members were experts in fabrication of powerful improvised explosive devices.
They belonged to a group led by Imam Bongos, who is facing more than 30 cases in different courts for deadly bombings in central Mindanao, extortion and multiple murders.
Col. Jovencio Gonzales, commander of the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade, said Saturday the eight BIFF men agreed to return to the fold of law through the efforts of the local government unit of Pagalungan municipality in Maguindanao and officials of the 90th Infantry Battalion.
The BIFF, fashioned from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, is tagged in all bomb attacks since 2014 in the adjoining provinces of Region 12 and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The eight gunmen yielded assault rifles, improvised explosive devices, a B40 anti-tank rocket and grenade launchers to Pagalungan Vice Mayor Abdillah Mamasabulod and Lt. Col. Rommel Mundala of the 90th IB in the presence of Gonzales.
“We ought to thank the LGU of Pagalungan for helping convince them to return to mainstream society,” Gonzales said.
More than 300 members of the BIFF and the equally notorious Dawlah Islamiya terror group in central Mindanao have surrendered to different units of the 6th Infantry Division, where the 603rd Infantry Brigade and the 90th IB belong, in the past 24 months.
Many of them have been reintroduced to the local communities with the help of LGUs and different government agencies, now thriving peacefully as farmers, tricycle drivers, carpenters, fishermen and entrepreneurs.