Sunday, September 15, 2019

BARMM to ease return to govt of ex-BIFF rebels

From the Manila Times (Sep 16, 2019): BARMM to ease return to govt of ex-BIFF rebels

COTABATO CITY: Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) officials gave assurances to help return to mainstream society former Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) gunmen.

Army Major Gen. Diosdado Carreon, commander of the 6th Infantry Division (6th ID,) on Sunday said at least 14 members of an Islamic State-inspired group have started reintegrating into civilian life with the help of the military and the Bangsamoro government.

Alimudin Malang and his 13 followers in the BIFF who had operated in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or IS) on Thursday turned over their firearms to Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo of the BARMM as they renounced their membership with the BIFF and promised to reform for good and will no longer fight against the government.

The symbolic event was held at Camp Siongco, command center of the 6th ID located in Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao.

The 14 former BIFF members each received initial relief supplies and cash assistance from BARMM’s Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence, or READI contingent, under Sinarimbo’s office.

Malang said he and his followers surrendered when they realized it is better to support the government peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, whose chairman, Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim, is now BARMM chief minister.

The BIFF, blamed for all deadly bombings in central Mindanao in the past six years, was established in 2010 by the radical religious leader Ameril Ombra Kato, who started as commander of the MILF’s 105th Base Command.

Kato was dismissed from the MILF in 2009 for abuses and, subsequently, organized the Jihadist BIFF, at first comprised of small bands of gunmen led by commanders wanted for criminal offenses.

Sinarimbo said the BARMM can embark on regional programs that can help hasten the rehabilitation of former BIFF members wishing to return to the fold of law.

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