SURRENDERED FIREARMS. High-powered firearms are turned over by three surrendering combatants of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Midsayap, North Cotabato on Wednesday (April 29, 2020). The Army’s 6th Infantry Division said they have monitored an increasing number of BIFF surrenderers in Central Mindanao in the past several months. (Photo courtesy of 6ID)

COTABATO CITY – An increasing number of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) are coming out to surrender and live normal lives in Central Mindanao, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID) said Thursday.

Maj. Gen. Diosdado Carreon, 6ID commander and chief of the Joint Task Force Central, said the latest batch of BIFF surrenderers came on Wednesday in Midsayap, North Cotabato.

Carreon identified the surrenderers as Lanny Madaluday Salem, Rocky Kinal Paguital, and Usman Abas Salem, all under the BIFF faction of the Islamic State-inspired leader Khagi Karialan operating in the peripheries of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, and North Cotabato provinces.

“They submitted themselves to the Army’s 34th Infantry Battalion (IB) based in Barangay Nabalawag of Midsayap town,” he said.

The surrenderers also turned over one caliber 7.62mm improvised sniper rifle, one M-14 rifle, three magazines, one bandolier, and ammunition.

The group of Karialan, one of the three factions of the BIFF, has been repeatedly linked to the spate of past bombings in Central Mindanao.

Carreon lauded the local officials and the 34IB for successfully bringing the BIFF fighters to the fold of the law.

"The surrender of the BIFF members is a result of the convergence among the security agencies, local government units, local leaders, and the peace-loving people of North Cotabato," he said.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, chief of the military’s Western Mindanao Command chief, lauded the troops for continuously running after lawless elements despite their added task of enforcing guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

"Despite the ongoing Covid-19 challenges, our troops are more than eager to end terrorism and violent extremism in our area of operation in Mindanao," Sobejana said in a statement. (PNA)