20 more former terrorists undergo livelihood training

John Unson - Philstar.com
20 more former terrorists undergo livelihood training
The 20 former terrorists who underwent livelihood training in Lanao del Sur last week are from different towns in the province.
Philstar.com / John Unson

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Twenty more former enemies of state in Lanao del Sur underwent a farming skills training to hasten their reintroduction to mainstream society after a long involvement in violent religious extremism and acts of terror.

After successfully completing the Agricultural Crops Production National Certificate III Skills Training in Bubong, Lanao del Sur, the 20 former members of Dawlah Islamiya and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters received an initial support of P11,260 each from the Bangsamoro government on Friday.

“We appreciate the activity because it complemented our efforts to transform these former members of groups that are engaged in terrorism into productive citizens respectful of the Philippine government,” Army Major Gen. Steve Crespillo, commander of the Army’s Western Mindanao Command, said Sunday.

The WestMinCom has jurisdiction over military units in Lanao del Sur and in the five other provinces of the Bangsamoro region — Maguindanao del Norte, Maguindanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

The livelihood training for the 20 Maranaos that lasted for a week was part of the Tulong ng Gobyernong Nagmamalasakit, or “Project Tugon,” of the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Project Tugon, led by MILG-BARMM, helps former extremists return to their communities after leaving groups that promoted hatred for non-Muslims and the government.

Records from the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and WestMinCom indicate that 634 former members of the Abu Sayyaf, the Dawlah Islamiya and the BIFF  had been assisted by the MILG-BARMM via its Project Tugon in the past eight months.

The 20 men trained in modern farming last week, whose names were withheld for security reasons, had earlier received relief support from BARMM’s Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence contingent, operating under the supervision of BARMM Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo.

The Dawlah Islamiya, the BIFF and the Abu Sayyaf have a reputation for attacking the families and relatives of members who have pledged allegiance to the government.

Sinarimbo said the MILG’s provincial offices shall soon provide more former violent religious extremists who have surrendered in recent months with humanitarian and livelihood support.

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