50 BIFF members surrender to Bangsamoro police

John Unson - Philstar.com
50 BIFF members surrender to Bangsamoro police
The 50 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters who surrendered Friday are now in the custody of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
Philstar.com / John Unson

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Fifty members of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters surrendered Friday, the largest group ever to return to the fold of law through the intercession of the police.

The group turned in assault rifles, grenade launchers, mortar rounds and components for improvised explosive devices before renouncing their membership with the BIFF in a symbolic rite at Camp SK Pendatun in Parang, Maguindanao del Norte.

The event was jointly presided over by Police Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr., the newly-installed national police chief, and Brig. Gen. Allan Nobleza, director of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

Acorda said he is thankful to officials of PRO-BAR and local executives in different Bangsamoro provinces for having secured the surrender of the 50 BIFF members via backchannel dialogues.

Local officials told reporters 13 of the BIFF members who surrendered at Camp SK Pendatun were experts in fabrication of improvised explosive devices.

Two of the bomb-makers, who asked to be identified only as Tasil and Pagal, separately said they decided to yield, as an initial step to their reintroduction to mainstream society, after learning that those who surrendered ahead of them have returned to their barangays and rejoined their families.

In their messages, Acorda and Nobleza said credit for the surrender of the 50 BIFF members also has to go to different agencies in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that have continuing humanitarian interventions that helped transform those who turned themselves in ahead and availed of BARMM and PRO-BAR’s joint reconciliation programs for violent religious extremists.

The BIFF and its allies Dawlah Islamiya and the Al-Khobar, all fashioned from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, are known for fomenting deep-seated animosity towards non-Muslims.

No fewer than 200 BIFF members had surrendered since 2019 to units of PRO-BAR that covers the provinces of Maguindanao del Norte, Maguindanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Cotabato, Marawi and Lamitan.

The 50 BIFF surrenderers each received from PRO-BAR initial food supplies, hand tractors and water buffaloes that they can use as draft animals for rice and corn farming.

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