SOME 176 families have returned to their community in Patikul, Sulu, after they were displaced for more than two decades due to atrocities by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits.

The Army’s 11th Infantry Division (ID) and Municipal Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict (MTF-ELAC) facilitated the return of the 176 families last Saturday, July 29, at Sitio Lumbaan in Buhanginan village, Patikul through the Balik-Sitio Program.

“Sitio Lumbaan was known to be one of the strongholds of Abu Sayyaf Leader Radullan Sahiron. The families residing in this sitio were displaced for over 20 years due to ASG terrorism,” Brigadier General Christopher Tampus, 1103rd Infantry Brigade commander, said in a statement Thursday, August 3.

“With the improved security landscape of Sulu, we are very happy that we were able to facilitate their safe return in their community,” Tampus added.

Patikul Mayor Kabir Hayudini has expressed sincere gratitude to the 11ID for their tireless support and assistance to the municipal government.

“Makakaasa kayo na ito ay aming pahahalagahan at makikiisa sa layuning pangkapayapaan,” Hayudini added.

The return of the 176 families to their community was highlighted with the inauguration of the three kilometers road concreting project in Sitio Lumbaan and the construction of water system level II and comfort rooms.

The Ministry of Social Services and Development in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (MSSD-BARMM) conducted gift-giving and distributed basic goods while the Sulu Integrated Provincial Health Office provided free medical check-ups and distributed free medicines.

Meanwhile, Major General Ignatius Patrimonio, 11ID commander, wished that order and prosperity for Sitio Lumbaan will be achieved through the Balik Sitio Program.

“Muli, binabati ko kayo sa inyong pagbabalik pagkatapos ng mahabang panahon (Again, I congratulate you on your return after a long time),” Patrimonio said.

Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan has expressed his gratitude and commended the efforts of every agency who contributed for the success of Balik-Sitio Program.

The Balik-Sitio is part of the Balik-Barangay Program of the Sulu PTF-ELAC which started in 2019.

To date, a total of 14 villages with a total of 7,600 families were able to return to their communities after a long period of displacement. (SunStar Zamboanga)

Source: SunStar (