Tuesday Mar, 28 2023 01:30:20 AM

29 BIFF members surrender to Army in Maguindanao Norte

Mindanao Peace Process • 09:15 AM Wed Feb 22, 2023
John M. Unson

COTABATO CITY --- A large group of religious extremists from a local group fashioned from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria surrendered to the Army in Maguindanao del Norte Tuesday.

Major Gen. Alex Rillera, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said Wednesday the 29 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters agreed to return to the fold of law through the efforts of the 1st Brigade Combat Team based in nearby Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao del Norte.

“Credit for their having agreed to surrender should also partly go to local executives in the provinces of Maguindanao del Norte, Maguindanao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato,” Rillera said.

The 6th ID withheld, meantime, the names of the 29 BIFF men for their safety. The BIFF is known for harassing former members who have availed of the 6th ID's reconciliation program for violent religious extremists.

The group turned in assorted firearms and explosives before renouncing their membership with the BIFF during a surrender rite at the headquarters of the 1st BCT in Barangay Pigkalagan in Sultan Kudarat.

The BIFF and its allies, the Dawlah Islamiya and the Al-Khobar, have a reputation for bombing commercial establishments and buses whose owners refuse to shell out “protection money” on a monthly basis.

More than 200 BIFF members have surrendered in the past 13 months through different units of 6th ID in central Mindanao.

Local officials told reporters 11 of the 29 BIFF members who surrendered to the 1st BCT were experts in fabrication of improvised explosive devices that can be detonated from a distance using mobile phones. 

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