FIVE more members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) have surrendered as the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) continued to intensify its security operations in the provinces of Basilan and Sulu.

Major General Alfredo Rosario Jr., commander of Westmincom, announced Tuesday, November 30, that the surrender of the five brought the total number of Abu Sayyaf surrenderers in the two provinces to 206 since January this year.

"The Westmincom, through its Joint Task Forces, is tightening its security operations, that is why most of the members and supporters of the threat groups (ASG) opted to return to the folds of the law," Rosario said.

"I hope that the remaining members will also come to their senses soon," Rosario added.

One of the five, identified only as Abu Bullet, 22, surrendered Saturday, November 27, in the province of Basilan.

Bullet, a resident of Tipo-Tipo municipality, is a follower of ASG leader Nurhasan Jamiri.

Bullet handed over his M-16 rifle to the troops of the 18th Infantry Battalion (IB) and was presented to Lieutenant Colonel Egverr Jonathan Abutin, the 18IB commander, during the Community Support Program (CSP) Grand Pulong-Pulong in Limbu Upas village, Tipo-Tipo.

Bullet will be enrolled in the Program Against Violent Extremism (Pave) for Peace of the Municipal Government of Tipo-Tipo.

"The strength and manpower of the ASG have dwindled. We sustain our efforts to totally eradicate the group and bring lasting peace in the province of Basilan," said Brigadier General Domingo Gobway, Joint Task Force (JTF)-Basilan commander.

Meanwhile, the other four ASG members surrendered Thursday, November 25, to the Marine Battalion Landing Team-7 (MBLT-7) of the Naval Task Group Sulu and 4th Marine Brigade (4MBde) in Panamao, Sulu.

Lieutenant Colonel Eduard Olaso, MBLT-7 commander, did not release the identities of the four ASG surrenderers for security reasons.

The surrenderers turned over two M16A1 rifles, one M1 Garand rifle, one caliber .45 pistol, and assorted ammunition.

The four have undergone custodial debriefing at the MBLT-7 headquarters in Seit Lake village, Panamao, Sulu, after which they were presented to Colonel Hernanie Songano, 4MBde commander, and subsequently turned over to Panamao Mayor Al-Fraizer Abdurajak for proper disposition.

Major William Gonzales of JTF-Sulu enjoined the remaining members of the ASG to peacefully surrender to government authorities.

"We welcome the surrender of the ASG members and acknowledge the support of the local government and the people in our efforts to defeat the enemies of the state," Gonzales said.

Of the total 206 ASG surrenderers since January this year, 165 yielded in Sulu, 37 in Basilan, three in Tawi-Tawi, and one in Zamboanga City. (SunStar Zamboanga)

Source: SunStar (