DISMANTLED. Members of a private armed group that was dismantled pledge their allegiance to the government in Bongao town, Tawi-Tawi province on Wednesday (March 22, 2023). The group, based in Panglima Sugala town of the island province, served as security escorts of a former town official. (Photo courtesy of APC-WM)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Authorities in Tawi-Tawi reported the dismantling of another private armed group (PAG) on Thursday, the third this week, after its members surrendered.

The Area Police Command - Western Mindanao (APC-WM) identified the group as the Asaad group, based in the town of Panglima Sugala, formerly known as Balimbing municipality.

The APC-WM said the Asaad group served as the security escort of former Panglima Sugala Mayor Rejie Sahali-Generale and operated in nearby municipalities.

Asaad Aharul, the group’s leader, Jurri Ismali, Ramil Baladji, Abdulhan Amilhamja, Moh. Sali Sabarani, and Midzfar Abdulmurib surrendered to the police’s Provincial Mobile Force Company (PMFC) headquarters in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi at about 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday.

The group turned over two unlicensed firearms, which were placed under the custody of the PMFC for safekeeping.

After taking their oath of allegiance to the government, the surrenderers were placed under the custody of Panglima Sugala Councilor Sabrine Soon Jilhano and will be subject to continuous close monitoring by the police.

Police said the Asaad group is the third PAG dismantled this week, after the surrender of members of the Alsaggab Mohammad Ali group on Monday and the Ahaja group on Tuesday.

The Alsaggab Mohammad Ali group based in Barangay Baldatal, Sapa-Sapa town, has seven followers, including a retired soldier, and served as armed guards during Ali's incumbency as the town mayor in 2007.

On the other hand, the seven-member Ahaja group served as security escorts of incumbent Sitangkai Mayor Tiblan Ahaja and Vice Mayor Serbin Ahaja. (PNA)