5 MORE SURRENDERERS. An Abu Sayyaf Group surrenderer hands over a Garand rifle to Brig. Gen. Antonio Bautista Jr., the Army's 1101st Infantry Brigade commander, during a ceremony on Friday (March 12, 2021). Four other bandits surrendered to the Army's 41st Infantry Battalion, headed by Lt. Col. James Erasmus Gagni (right) in Barangay Matatal, Maimbung, Sulu. (Photo courtesy of the 11th infantry Division Public Information Office)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Five Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits, including a minor, surrendered to government authorities in Sulu with the help of their relatives, military officials said Saturday.

Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, 11th Infantry Division commander, said the five surrendered to the 41st Infantry Battalion (IB) in Sitio Bato Habah, Barangay Matatal, Maimbung, Sulu on Friday.

Gonzales identified them as Rostom Tadjiron Jany, 19, a follower of ASG sub-leader Apoh Mike; Mannan Hajan Illah, 26, under the slain ASG sub-leader Albader Parrad; Asad Jalali, 64, under the slain ASG sub-leader Doctor Abuh; Abduhail Indanan Marajul, 34, a follower of ASG sub-leader Yasser Igasan; and a 16-year-old follower of slain ASG leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan.

Gonzales said the surrenderers believe they were misled by the "twisted narratives of the ASG.”

“Now, they are enlightened after listening to the religious teachings of the Ulama Council," he said.

Lt. Col. James Erasmus Gagni, 41IB commander, said Marajul joined the ASG "at a very young age because some of his relatives, who were also members of the ASG, claimed that what they are doing is for Jihad."

He quoted Marajul as saying in the vernacular, “I am part of the group of sub-leader Yasser Igasan, who encouraged violence towards non-believers. I am thankful that my wife and in-laws urged me to leave the ASG. They asked me to attend a Madrasah, where I finally learned the real essence of being a Muslim."

Gagni, who facilitated the surrender, said the other former ASG members also joined the group for the same reasons.

He said the ASG targets youths, who are still in their formative years, and exploits the children’s lack of education to "indoctrinate them on their false narrative."

The five ASG surrenderers yielded one grenade launcher and two Garand rifles.

Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Antonio Bautista Jr., the Army's 1101st Infantry Brigade commander, said the surrenderers would receive financial and other livelihood assistance from the Municipal Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict (TF-ELAC). (PNA)