Army in Sultan Kudarat vows to ?win hearts and minds?

“If we have peace in the area, we can deliver the basic services to our people,” said Atal, and by this, he stressed, “those taking up arms to overthrow the government would be convinced to give up their struggle.”


“This is in support to the government’s thrust to sustain, if not to improve, the economic development in this part of the region,” he said.


Last Friday, MILF commanders Bagi-Bagi and Black Jack, together with their men, yielded to the Army in a simple ceremony held at the municipal gym in Datu Paglas, a town in Maguindanao believed to be influenced by MILF.


“Boy Palangan alias Commander Bagi-Bagi and 13 of his followers and Michael Sandialin Pompong alias Commander Black Jack and 24 of his men have decided to give up their fight to give peace a chance,” said Atal.


But MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal told MindaNews the alleged commanders are “pseudo-rebels, henchmen of politicians.”


Maj. Gen. Rodolfo Obaniana, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, together with Army commanders Col. Felipe Tabas of the 604th Brigade and Col. Ruperto Pabustan of the 602nd Brigade, and 57th IB commander Col. Flaviano Sembran witnessed the turn-over of firearms.


Atal said it was former Datu Paglas town mayor Ibrahim “Toto” Paglas who hosted the affair.  Paglas, according to Army reports, worked with Col. Atal to convince the commanders to surrender.


Atal said that after they yielded their firearms, those who surrendered were given the monetary value of those guns.