BIFF SURRENDERERS. Six BIFF members left) take their oath of allegiance to the Philippine flag following their surrender Sunday (Sept. 25, 2022) in Midsayap town, North Cotabato province. A day earlier, 26 BIFF extremists also yielded in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao, with their three leaders representing them (right) during the turnover of their firearms to local authorities. (Photos courtesy of 6ID)

DATU ODIN SINSUAT, Maguindanao – Twenty-nine members of the extremist Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) have surrendered to authorities in Central Mindanao over the weekend, military officials said Monday.

Colonel Oriel Pangcog, Army’s 601st Brigade (601Bde) commander, welcomed the surrender of 23 BIFF fighters operating in this province during a ceremony held at the brigade headquarters in Barangay Kamasi of Ampatuan town on Saturday.

Immediate cash assistance was awarded to the former extremists, Pangcog said.

“Their documents will also be processed for enrollment in the reintegration program of the government,” he said in a statement Monday.

King Fahad, a field commander of the BIFF-Bungos faction, and his followers handed over six high-powered firearms that included an M653 rifle, two Garand rifles, a .50-caliber sniper rifle, and two M14 rifles.

In Midsayap, North Cotabato, six BIFF members also surrendered to the military and were presented Sunday to town Mayor Rolly Sacdalan.

“You made the right decision, your government is ready to help you live normal lives,” Sacdalan told the surrenderers who belonged to the BIFF-Kagui Karialan faction during a ceremony at the municipal hall conference room.

One of the surrenderers said he joined the group due to lack of sources of income and livelihood.

"The BIFF promised better lives that never happened, and now we just want to live peacefully with our families and loved ones,” he said in the vernacular.

The BIFF batch turned in three M-14 assault rifles, two Garand rifles, a Carbine rifle, and a homemade .30-caliber sniper rifle.

Each surrenderer received PHP20,000 livelihood assistance, food packs, and medical assistance from the Midsayap town government.

Maj. Gen. Roy Galido, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander, has lauded the troops and local officials for jointly facilitating the surrender of the two BIFF batches.

“The violent extremists saw that the government is sincerely implementing the reintegration program, hence, they were convinced to lay down their arms and return to the folds of the law,” he said.

Since January this year, 178 BIFF personalities have surrendered to the military in Central Mindanao. (PNA)