GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/10 January) — At least 12 bandits operating in the tri-boundaries of South Cotabato, Sarangani and Davao del Sur surrendered over the weekend to police and local officials in Malungon town in Sarangani.
Malungon Mayor Reynaldo Constantino said Monday the bandits voluntarily surrendered and laid down their firearms in response to an earlier ultimatum issued by the local government following the series of attacks on several villages in the area.
“We issued the ultimatum for them to come down now and work with us or face the full force of the law. We’re very grateful that they made the right decision,” he said.
The mayor said the surrenderees were mainly part of a notorious bandit group, which was reportedly behind the string of armed robberies, cattle rustling, illegal drug trading and other criminal activities in the area during the past several years.
A report from the Malungon municipal police station identified the surrederees as Uba Buan, Jerry Tewari, Lito Landawe, Desia Fiang, Arnold Magunday, Dante Malila, Allan Pandacan, Moresto Maligan, Boyet Maguday, Luga Wata, Mariano Pandacan and Sol Fiang.
They surrendered at least 11 firearms composed of 11 shotguns, two M1 Garand rifles and an improvised M-16 Armalite rifle.
Chief Insp. Alvin Martin, Malungon police chief, said they immediately detained Buan, Tewari, Landawe ang Desia Fiang due to the pending arrest warrants issued against them. He said the four were facing various counts of murder, frustrated murder, estafa, cattle rustling and illegal drug-related charges.
Martin said the suspects would be transferred to the Sarangani Provincial Jail later this week pending the trial of their cases. The eight other surrenderees are currently at the custody of the
municipal government of Malungon pending their debriefing and the release of livelihood assistance for them, he said.
“It’s (livelihood assistance) part of the package offered by the local government in exchange for their surrender,” the police official said.
Constantino said the local government will help the former bandits lead normal lives with their families by providing livelihood opportunities that they would be able to sustain.
“It’s important for us to provide them the necessary livelihood means to ensure that they will not return to their old ways again,” he said. The mayor said the local government is committed to sustain its campaign against the bandits in the area and assured that they will not stop until all bandits based in their town are neutralized or have surrendered to authorities.
“We’re not slowing down any time soon. We want to end this problem once and for all so we can move forward with our development works without the risk of getting hampered later on by these elements,” he added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)