September 22, 2023 | 1:29pm
CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao del Norte — The police and Army are both optimistic on the possible surrender of at least 100 more members of two terrorist groups in central Mindanao operating in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in the next 12 months.
Army Major Gen. Alex Rillera, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, told reporters on Friday that their units in the adjoining Maguindanao del Norte, Maguindanao del Sur and Cotabato provinces have been receiving surrender feelers from members the Dawlah Islamiya and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, manifesting intention to return to the fold of law.
The feelers were channeled through local government units supporting 6th ID’s local reconciliation program for violent religious extremists.
Brig. Gen. Allan Nobleza, director of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, said that they are trying to secure the surrender of at least 20 more Dawlah Islamiya and BIFF members from October to December 2023.
“We are doing this with the help of local government units,” Nobleza said Friday.
Units of 6th ID and PRO-BAR had separately worked out the surrender of 417 Dawlah Islamiya and BIFF members since 2021.
Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner, Jr., chief of staff of the Armed Forces, told reporters on Thursday that he appreciates the feats achieved by the 6th ID in securing the surrender of hundreds of Dawlah Islamiya and BIFF members via backdoor dialogues.
“We learned that units of the 6th ID have been receiving more surrender feelers from violent religious extremists. That is a clear indication that the division’s peace and reconciliation efforts are succeeding,” Brawner then said.
Brawner and Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity together led Thursday’s unveiling of the 6th ID’s newly-constructed peculiar peace monument parallel with the entrance gate to this 200-hectare camp, where the division’s headquarters is located.
The uncommon peace monument, the first ever in the country, according to Brawner, is a large replica of an M16 assault rifle made of pieces of 3,000 rifles, rocket launchers, machineguns and mortars that the 6th ID collected from former Dawlah Islamiya and BIFF members and New People’s Army guerillas who had surrendered to its units in the past four years.