ZAMBOANGA CITY, May 5 (PNA) – Twenty-three members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) surrendered in week’s time due to the relentless military operations against the bandits in the provinces of Basilan and Sulu, a top military commander here said Friday.
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), on Friday announced that 19 Abu Sayyaf bandits surrendered in Basilan while the remaining four yielded in Sulu.
“We expect to receive more Abu Sayyaf members who will surrender in the coming days, as even top leaders of the group are already sending feelers for their possible surrender,” Galvez said.
“We will continue to pound on the remaining Abu Sayyaf members until we get the last of them. With the solid support and backing we are getting from the local government units, the traditional and religious leaders, from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front, we are positive that we will all be successful in this fight against terrorism,” he added.
The 19 Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf bandits, including two sub-leaders, surrendered on Thursday in two separate groups.
Col. Juvymax Uy, commander of the Joint Task Force Basilan, said the two sub-leaders namely Nur Hassan Lahaman alias Hassan and Mudz-Ar Angkun alias Mapad Ladjaman surrendered along with 13 followers to the 64th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Tumahubong, Sumisip, Basilan.
Uy said Hassan is based in the municipality of Tuburan while Mapad in Sumisip. They turned over nine high-powered firearms.
Another four ASG members, who are based in Hadji Mohammad Ajul town, also surrendered on Thursday, he said.
They were identified as Patta Salapuddin alias Patta, 53; Asbi Salapuddin alias Asbi, 32; Sayyadi Salapuddin alias Saya, 31; and, Arci Salapuddin alias Arc, 20.
They were allegedly involved in the March 23 hijacking and abduction of two crew members of M/T Tug R9 towing Super Shuttle Roro 9 off Basilan province. The two were rescued separately.
All the 19 Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf surrenderers are now undergoing processing and debriefing at the provincial police headquarters.
In Sulu, four ASG members also surrendered last week to the government authorities.
Husain Nasirin and Hasir Asara of Patikul, Sulu surrendered to the 501st Infantry Brigade under Brig. Gen. Jose Faustino Jr. in Bud Datu, Barangay Tagbak, Indanan.
The two others who surrendered in Sulu were identified as Udon Hussein alias Udon Hasim, 40, and Haidal Kimar, 25. Both are residents of Panglima Estino.
“The Abu Sayyaf members from Sulu are among the most notorious and among the most difficult to go after. However, this recent accomplishment only proves that the landscape in the area is indeed changing,” Galvez said.
At least 40 Abu Sayyaf members have already surrendered to the government since January this year.
Most of them have yielded high-powered firearms and ammunition.