ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 09 January) – At least 21 members of the Islamic State-aligned Abu Sayyaf Group, including top leader Madjid Said alias Amah Pattit, surrendered on Sunday in Sulu province, a military official said.
Marine Brig. Gen Arturo Rojas, acting commander of the Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom), said the Abu Sayyaf members yielded in Patikul town following the relentless efforts of troops in the area.
Brig. Gen. Benjamin Batara, commander of the 1103rd Infantry Brigade, presented the 21 Abu Sayyaf members to Maj. Gen Ignatius Patrimonio, 11th Infantry Division chief.
They surrendered at least 10m high-powered firearms to the military and Patikul Mayor Kabir Hayudini.
The 10 high-powered firearms they turned over include three M16 and seven M14 rifles.
Said has been classified by the Anti-Terrorism Council, through Resolution No. 32, Series of 2022 issued on May 22, 2022, as one of the top five “terrorists” in the country. He was identified as an uncle of Abu Sayyaf subleader and bombmaker Mudzrimar “Mundi” Sawadjaan, who is allegedly behind the bombing of the Jolo Cathedral in January 2019 that left 20 persons dead and at least 100 others wounded.
“I’m very happy with this development,” Rojas said in a phone interview, noting that the surrenderers have to follow certain conditions.
They must not band themselves again and should join the programs of the Philippine government, he added.
Rojas said they were expecting the band of Abu Sayyaf under Said to yield due to the integrated civil and military strategy to flush out the militants.
He acknowledged the help of the Patikul municipal government and Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan to make the area “Abu Sayyaf-free.”
Aside from relentless military operations, the Abu Sayyaf surrenders were isolated after the Anti-Money Laundering Council froze the group’s known financial account, Rojas said.
Lt. Col. Abraham Sirajan , WesMinCom spokesman, said in a separate phone interview that the surrenderers will benefit from the Bangsamoro government’s “Project Tugon” (Tulong ng Gobyernong Nagmamalasakit).
Tugon is a program to help former Abu Sayyaf members live in mainstream society.
Under Executive Order No. 70, which institutionalizes the whole-of-government approach to end local armed conflict, Sirajan said the surrenders can also avail of assistance from various government agencies.
Rojas said the 1103rd Infantry Brigade and the Patikul municipal government provided initial food and financial assistance to the 21 Abu Sayyaf during the negotiations.
“The confidence-building process took some time, for which I commend once again our dedicated soldiers for their unyielding commitment to the mission,” he said.
Aside from Said, the other surrenderers were Jamiri Jauhari alias Jamiri, Uran Jauhari, Kadafi Kalisali alias Khadaffy, Lalimar Garingan, Jarrin Napie, Annuar Sahibul alias Muadz Aming, Lovely Abdus alias Andus or Lovely, Tabuh Ibno alias Taboh, Marjin Jauhari, Jaafar Abdulla, Samer Faih, Akih Julpa, Abdulla Uling, Ukod Asbang, Jubail Anji alias Jubael, Wanhil, Alih Janjalani also known as (aka) Abdurajak, Julkamar Usman, Pading Sidi Nani aka Pading, and Rakin Julpa.
In an earlier report, Rojas said the Abu Sayyaf numbers are declining and “is now a spent force.” (Frencie Careon / MindaNews)