Basilan’s Lamitan City declared 'Abu Sayyaf-free'

John Unson - Philstar.com
Basilan�s Lamitan City declared 'Abu Sayyaf-free'
More than a dozen firearms were voluntarily surrendered to the police and military by residents of Lamitan City during their mayor's state of the city report activity on June 18, 2024.
Photo courtesy of Philstar.com / John Unson

COTABATO CITY — The police, military and local executives on Tuesday declared Lamitan City in Basilan free from the presence of the Abu Sayyaf that once had members in some of its 45 barangays, now touted as the new investment hubs in the island province.

Brig. Gen. Prexy Tanggawohn, director of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, and the commander of the Philippine Army, Lt. Gen. Roy Galido, separately told reporters here on Tuesday that Lamitan City’s having been tagged as "Abu Sayyaf-free" was one of the highlights of the state of the city report, or SOCR, of Mayor Roderick Furigay on the same day.

Thousands, among them local executives from Basilan led by Gov. Hadjiman Salliman, attended the event, held at a public gymnasium in the Lamitan City government compound.

In his SOCR, Furigay, whose administration is supported by officials of the 45 barangays under him, talked about improvements in governance and in local commerce and trade as a result of the fragile peace now spreading around Lamitan City, one of two cities and 11 towns under the leadership of Salliman, now a third-termer provincial governor.

Galido said credit for Lamitan City’s having been liberated from Abu Sayyaf presence should go to its mayor and his constituent-barangay officials, to Salliman and the Army’s 101st Infantry Brigade under Brig. Gen. Alvin Luzon and the officials of the Basilan Provincial Police Office and PRO-BAR, led by Tanggawohn.

“There was good cooperation among them in setting Lamitan City free from Abu Sayyaf presence,” Galido said.

The Abu Sayyaf, founded by the late Abduradjak Janjalani, a violent religious extremist, born and raised in Barangay Tabuk, Isabela City in Basilan, had ruled in many isolated seaside and upland areas in a number of towns in the province for about two decades.

More than 400 Abu Sayyaf members in Basilan surrendered in batches in the past six years through the joint intercession of local executives, religious leaders, officials of the provincial police and the 101st Infantry Brigade and its units scattered in the province.

More than a dozen assault rifles and grenade launchers were also turned over to the police and military by residents of Lamitan City as part of the SOCR  activity, to show support for PRO-BAR and the Army’s disarmament campaign in Basilan.

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