Secretary of National Defense Delfin N. Lorenzana met with Abu Sayyaf Group surrenderees at the 11th Infantry Division headquarters in Jolo, Sulu.
Afternoon of January 22, 2021, Secretary Lorenzana met with twenty-five (25) former ASG members from the municipalities of Patikul, Indanan, Talipao, and Parang all of Sulu. 11th Infantry Division Commander MGen William N Gonzales with 1101st Infantry Brigade Commander Col Antonio I Bautista Jr and Governor Abdusakur M Tan presented the former rebels to the secretary, explaining why they have joined the terror group and how their surrender is taking a toll on the ASG’s manpower, logistics, and morale.
Arsad T Hajihil, 60 years old, one of the surrenderee is a former commander of Mindanao ASG Central Committee way back 1990s. He was a member of the terrorist group for 25 years who surrendered just last January 9, 2021. Hajihil told Secretary Lorenzana that he is grateful for and encouraged by the opportunity and assistance provided to him by government, particularly the Department of National Defense, the LGU, and the troops of the Joint Task Force-Sulu. He also vowed to make use of the second chance given to him by leading a more peaceful and productive life.
In his speech, the defense secretary said that the series of surrenders signifies the waning strength of the ASG and emphasizes the effectiveness of the government’s programs against terrorism and radicalism. “It is my utmost hope that we ultimately defeat the ASG and surely, with the concerted and sustained efforts of our troops, local government units here in Sulu, we will attain peace in the region. To our brothers here who surrendered, you have made the right and best decision. Help the others (ASG members) change for the better. You will not be neglected, you will not be left alone. You will be taken care of by our governmnt,” he said in the vernacular.
For his part, MGen Gonzales fully agreed with Secretary Lorenzana. “Each individual’s change of heart for the love of their family contributes to our internal security and brings about our solidarity as a nation.”
Secretary Lorenzana, who also had a meeting with the security sector in Sulu, came to the province to accompany President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on his engagement with the troops of Joint Task Force-Sulu. 11ID