SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao –– Citing hunger, 12 gunmen belonging to the Islamic State (IS)-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) surrendered to the Philippine Army Tuesday.
One fighter who asked not to be named said the continuous military operations against the BIFF have confined them to the fringes of the Ligwasan Marsh, limiting their access to food.
The fighter added that they also had to transfer from village to village to escape the Army foot patrols, aided by choppers, who target them.
Colonel Jose Narciso, commander of the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade based here, said the BIFF combatants surrendered with the help of officials of Sultan sa Barongis town of Maguindanao.
“We had a series of negotiations with their (local) leaders before their formal surrender,” said Narciso.
He hoped more gunmen would follow.
The group turned over assorted firearms, including three home-made caliber .50 sniper rifles, in a ceremony at the town’s legislative building attended by Sultan sa Barongis Mayor Alfizzar Allan Datu Angas Sr. and other officials.
Angas said only two of the 12 surrenderers were from his town.
Narciso assured the erstwhile rebels that the government would help them through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.
Another BIFF member said he decided to surrender on the prodding of former comrades who availed themselves of assistance from the government.
Earlier, the military said that IS has been offering big sums to recruit people into its fold.
Edited by Lzb
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