Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana expressed hope that the surrender of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leader Nhurhassan Jamiri and his entire group will bring the collapse of the terror group in Basilan.
In a statement Thursday, Lorenzana said he is also hopeful that Jamiri’s surrender will restore peace and order in the province and bring justice to the death of thousands of soldiers, who sacrificed their lives to protect the people.
The ASG leader and 13 of his companions surrendered to Western Mindanao Command head Lt. Gen. Carlito G. Galvez and soldiers of Joint Task Force Basilan around 9 a.m. Wednesday.
The group also turned over 10 high-powered firearms, 40 assorted ammunition magazines, 651 pieces of live ammunition, a MK-52 fragmentation grenade, and eight bandoleers. The high-powered firearms consisted of seven M-16 rifles, an M-4 carbine, an M-653 rifle, and an M-14 rifle.
“From the rendezvous area, all the troops along with the ASG surrenderers exfiltrated towards the headquarters of the 9th Scout Ranger Company and the 104Bde (Brigade) in Tabiawan, Isabela City,” Joint Task Force Basilan commander Brig. Gen. Juvymax Uy said.
“The surrenderers are currently undergoing custodial debriefing,” he added.
Uy said coordination with the police is also being undertaken for the necessary legal procedures.
“This surrender only proves that with the President’s strategic guidance, our relentless offensives on the ground and our diplomatic approach are effective in defeating the Abu Sayyaf bandits and in addressing the internal aggression in ZamBaSulTa (Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi) area,” Galvez stressed.
“Following Jamiri’s surrender, we expect the other top leaders of the Abu Sayyaf to do the same in the upcoming days,” he added.
The series of surrenders is attributed to strategic leadership and sincerity of the Duterte Administration to solve the problem in Mindanao combined with the strong cooperation between the LGU, AFP, PNP with the active participation of the affected communities.
During his visit to Patikul, Sulu on Monday, President Rodrigo R. Duterte emphasized that he will give the Abu Sayyaf surrenderers the chance at a new life.
He also asked them to help him make Mindanao peaceful during his term.
“I don’t abhor you (Abu Sayyaf members) because I understand the situation. As the president, I want to help you, but first, help me bring peace for the Moros in Mindanao. I am the only president that has a heart for the Muslims. All those who want to surrender are welcome but those who want to fight, know that the government is ready,” the Chief Executive added.
Just two days after the President’s visit and pronouncement, an Abu Sayyaf member surrendered in Tawi-Tawi and another did the same in Sulu.
“The surrender of Jamiri’s unit was a result of an inter-agency collaboration of our security forces and strong support of local government units which facilitated the negotiations,” Lorenzana said.
Jamiri is the overall ASG commander operating in Tuburan, Albarka, Tipo-Tipo, Akbar, Mohamad Adjul and Lamitan City. He is also the Operations Officer and Chief of the Urban Terrorist Group of Basilan.
His group gained notoriety for carrying out the 2002 Fort Pilar Bombing in Zamboanga City, 2007 ambush of Marine troops in Albarka, which left 24 dead Marines, the death of 19 Special Forces students in Cambug, Albarka, and the 2001 Lamitan Siege.
The Jamiri Group was also involved in hosting the Sulu-based ASG, which conducted seajacking and kidnapping of Vietnamese vessels and sailors crossing the Basilan Strait.
Its members also perpetrated several IED attacks in the cities of Isabela, Lamitan, Zamboanga, as well as kidnapping-for-ransom and extortion activities in Basilan province.
This development brings the total number of ASG surrenderers to 216, of whom 100 were from Basilan, which has served as the operational base of the ASG since 1995.
“Our various efforts at forging peace with various armed groups under the leadership of President Duterte are now reaping success. We hope this will continue to gain momentum to achieve peace without any bloodshed,” Lorenzana added. PNA