TAWI-TAWI – The Philippine military has released at least 16 notorious Abu Sayyaf militants who surrendered recently in the provinces of Basilan and Tawi-Tawi despite their heinous crimes.
Eleven of those who had been freed – including their leaders Berong Sariol and Ben Sariol – are wanted for piracy and cross-border kidnappings in Sabah in Malaysia, according to the Western Mindanao Command.
They were also involved in the brutal murder of Catholic priest Reynaldo Roda in South Ubian in Tawi-Tawi on January 2008; and the April 2014 kidnappings in Sabah of Chinese tourist Gao Hua Yun and Filipina resort worker Marcy Dayawan, including Mayor Kuyoh Pajiji, of Tawi-Tawi’s Sibutu town in June 2003; and Korean ship captain Chul Hong Park and his Filipino crew Glen Alendajao, also in Tawi-Tawi last year.
All of them – Jasim Dambong, Mujil Dambong, Magelan Langal, Kael Sariol, Nurhamin Sariol, Alhan Sariol, Amnisain Sariol, Akmad Sariol, and Benasil Sariol – were released on the basis that authorities have failed to secure warrants for their arrest and the military even provided them financial assistance in exchanged for the weapons the militants had surrendered.
Both Abu Sayyaf leaders had been previously arrested by authorities in Tawi-Tawi’s Bongao town in May 2009, but had been also freed due to the failure of law enforcers to present arrest warrants. Kuala Lumpur wanted the Sariol group to stand trial in Malaysia for their crimes.
Six other militants also surrendered recently in Basilan, including Nasser Sagap, who yielded on April 19 to the 18th Infantry Battalion in Ungkaya Pukan town. The 20-year old militant who uses the alias Sinbad, claimed to be a follower of Abu Sayyaf leader Puruji Indama, and yielded an old Garand rifle. The army also held a simple ceremony in Basilan for Sagap’s surrender.
In September last year, at least 20 alleged militants under Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Katatong Balaman surrendered in Sumisip town in Basilan. And this was followed by the surrender of 7 more militants – Sulaiman Kasaran, Marwin Asan Kasaran, Derwin Asan Kasaran, Halid Asan Kasaran, Hadzmin Kuluman Kasaran, Faisal Laudmin Kasaran and Salman Najallon Kasaran – in Basilan, a stronghold of the jihadist group which pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. All of them were also freed by the military.
Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, the regional military commander, praised the surrender of the militants. “This only manifests that our troops are already gaining grounds with the combat operations launched by the units and the growing support of the local government and the people in Basilan. The Abu Sayyaf bandits are now compelled to leave their bailiwicks as we work closely with the local government and our partners to turn the strongholds of the Abu Sayyaf into a peaceful community,” he said.
“We want to work for peace without the use of arms and prevent bloodshed, and, in this light, we are encouraging other Abu Sayyaf bandits, as Filipinos, to lay down their arms and join the government in working for a peaceful and progressive Mindanao,” he added.
The Philippine government has not offered any amnesty to the Abu Sayyaf and other jihadist groups fighting for the establishment of a caliphate in the restive region. (Mindanao Examiner)
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