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WestMinCom chief cites 6th ID’s peace programs

Mindanao Peace Process • 20:45 PM Fri Nov 10, 2023
John Felix Unson
The Army’s 6th Infantry Division presented on Thursday to Lt. Gen. William Gonzales the weapons surrendered in recent months by enemies of state. (John Unson)

COTABATO CITY - Senior Army and police officials lauded on Thursday the Army’s 6th Infantry Division for having secured the surrender of 772 local terrorists and members of the now moribund New People’s Army in the past 28 months.

Army Lt. Gen. William Gonzales, commander of the military’s Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City, told officers of the 6th ID and its units, during a dialogue in nearby Camp Siongco on Thursday, that he is impressed with how they have persuaded, with the help of local executives, the 772 enemies of state to get reintroduced in mainstream society.

The visit of Gonzales to Camp Siongco, where 6th ID’s headquarters is located, was his first since his assumption last week as commander of WestMinCom that covers the six Bangsamoro provinces, Region 9 and parts of Region 12.

“The WestMinCom is happy with how the 6th ID and its units, the Bangsamoro government and elected officials in different regions are cooperating in working out the surrender of more misguided forces out there,” Gonzales said.

6th ID’s commander, Major Gen. Alex Rillera, presented to Gonzales, while at Camp Siongco, the rifles, machineguns and mortars voluntarily yielded by members of the allies Dawlah Islamiya, Al-Khobar, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the NPAs who had voluntarily returned to the fold of law through the joint intercession of different units of the division and local government units.

Rillera said their units would not have succeeded in securing the surrender of terrorists operating in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, and NPAs if not for the support of officials of the Bangsamoro region and governors and mayors in central Mindanao.

Rillera said among the staunch supporters of their domestic reconciliation program for ISIS-inspired groups and the NPA, now more known as “communist terrorist group” in police and military parlance, are officials of the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The office BARMM Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo has religious reorientation and socio-economic interventions for members of the Dawlah Islamiya, the Al-Khobar and the BIFF who had returned to the fold of law. The three groups have a reputation for bombing buses and commercial establishments whose owners refuse to pay “protection money” on a monthly basis.

Rillera said their units have lately been receiving more surrender feelers from members of the three groups, apparently enticed by the projects of the MILG-BARMM for reforming former enemies of the government.

In a statement Thursday, Major Gen. Jonnel Estomo, Western Mindanao Area police commander, said he is giving the 6th ID, the local government units in central Mindanao and agencies of BARMM a “two thumbs up” for addressing peace and order problems as a team.

Estomo said he is thankful to the governors, mayors, barangay leaders and officials of the MILG-BARMM for supporting the joint efforts of the 6th ID and the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region to nip communist insurgency and violent religious extremism in far-flung towns from the bud.


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