13 more ex-BIFF members up for reintegration to communities

John Unson - Philstar.com
13 more ex-BIFF members up for reintegration to communities
The 13 surrenderees, who had pledged allegiance to the government, also yielded assault rifles, mortars and anti-tank rockets.
Philstar.com / John Unson

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Government agencies shall start reintegrating into the local communities next week the 13 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters who surrendered Thursday in Maguindanao del Norte.

The 13 BIFF men had pledged allegiance to the government after turning over their assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and two 60 millimeter mortars during their symbolic surrender at the headquarters of the Army’s 1st Brigade Combat Team in Barangay Pigkalagan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao del Norte.

Brig. Gen. Leodivic Guinid, commander of the 1st BCT, said Saturday the group agreed to surrender through the intercession of local executives in Datu Saudi, Rajah Buayan, Datu Unsay, Shariff Saydona, Datu Hoffer, Datu Abdullah Sangki and Mamasapano municipalities in Maguindanao del Sur province, where there the BIFF has enclaves.

Representatives of the seven local government units present in the event were quoted in radio reports Saturday as saying that the group signified willingness to surrender when they learned that their companions who surrendered ahead in batches in recent months to units in central Mindanao of the 6th Infantry Division since 2021 had been reintroduced to mainstream society.

6th ID’s commander, Major Gen. Alex Rillera, told reporters Saturday the division and the 1st BCT shall cooperate, along with different LGUs and agencies of the Bangsamoro government, in providing livelihood support for the 13 former BIFF terrorists.

More than 200 members of the BIFF and its ally, the Dawlah Islamiya, had availed of the 6th ID’s local reconciliation program for violent religious extremists in the past 18 months.

Besides fomenting hatred for non-Muslims, both groups also have a reputation for bombing public conveyances and commercial establishments whose owners refuse to shell out “protection money” on a monthly basis.

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