ASG SURRENDERER. One of nine Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) militants hands over a rifle to Maj. Gen. Ignatius Patrimonio, the Joint Task Force (JTF)-Sulu commander, following their surrender on Wednesday (March 23, 2022) at the headquarters of the 1102nd Infantry Brigade in Barangay Tagbak, Indanan, Sulu. The surrenderers said they wish to live a peaceful life with their families. (Photo courtesy of JTF-Sulu)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Nine Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits have decided to surrender to live peaceful lives in the province of Sulu, military officials said Thursday.

Col. Giovanni Franza, the Army’s 1102nd Infantry Brigade commander, said in a statement that the nine ASG members surrendered Wednesday afternoon in Barangay Tagbak, Indanan, Sulu.

Franza presented them to Maj. Gen. Ignatius Patrimonio, the Joint Task Force (JTF)-Sulu commander, who assured the ASG surrenderers that the JTF will do its best to help them get the assistance they need.

The nine surrenderers belonged to the groups of ASG sub-leaders Alhabsy Misaya, Idang Susukan, Hairulla Asbang, and Majan Sahidjuan alias Apoh Mike.

Abu Asari, 73, the oldest among the nine surrenderers, said he joined the ASG at the age of 48 and was an active follower for only one and a half years.

“I experienced hardship when I joined the group. I decided to leave after realizing that we don’t have a future, and I’ll just waste my life if I will remain with the group,” said Asari, a resident of Barangay Laum, Maimbung, Sulu.

“I am old now. I wish to live a long life to see my children finish their studies,” he added in the dialect.

Franza described the group's decision to give themselves up as a "significant event showed your willingness to return to your normal lives and live peacefully with your family and loved ones."

“To those who are still with the terror group, we, in the government, are here to help you live normally. Take this opportunity to return to the folds of the law, and we will always be here to help you to start anew,” he added.

National Defense Undersecretary Reynaldo Mapagu, who chairs the Task Force Balik-Loob program, visited Sulu on Wednesday and met with the Sulu Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) committee.

Mapagu assured to help facilitate the benefits of the ASG surrenderers under the package.

The latest batch of surrenderers brought to 30 the total number of ASG members who voluntarily surrendered to the JTF-Sulu since January this year. (PNA)