Ben Salina Sapilin, a.k.a. Ben, a cousin of the late sub-leader Hapilon and two other Abu Sayyad member yielded to the troops in Barangay Macalang, Albarka, Basilan at 4pm last October 17, 2017. -Photo: WestMinCom
CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City – Nine (9) Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members voluntarily surrendered to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) over the past weeks including the cousin of recently killed ASG and Maute-ISIS leader, Isnilon Hapilon, AFP Public Affairs Chief, Colonel Edgard Arevalo said Saturday, 21 October 2017.
“We were able to identify Ben Salina Sapilin who uses the alias ‘Ben’ a cousin of Isnilon Hapilon. He along with other members Ramu Sapilin and Muhamad Endeng surrendered to troops of the 74th Infantry Battalion on 17 October 2017 in Al Barka Basilan. They brought along with them three (3) high-powered firearms,” Colonel Arevalo said.
To date, the military has neutralized 325 ASG personalities. Of which, 124 were killed in combat operations; 82 were arrested; and 119 voluntarily surrendered.
The surrenders of the terrorists in masses are positive results of the AFP’s combined focused combat, intelligence, and civil-military operations in cooperation with the local governments in the area.
In September alone, 15 Abu Sayyaf terrorists turned themselves to the AFP. The most recent was in September 30 when three (3) ASG members under the late Sub-leader alias Ninok Sappari voluntarily surrendered with their high-powered firearms to the 32nd Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army.
The troops in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi (BaSulTa) area also have recent gains. Last 28 September, a certain Boy Indama, one of the jail escapees in Basilan Provincial Jail back in December 2009 was re-arrested by combined military and police forces. He was under ASG Sub-leader Furuji Indama.
“The AFP sees the mass surrenders of the Abu Sayyaf as indicator of the weakening proliferation of terrorism and violent extremism in the country, an upshot of the gains in the Marawi operations,” Colonel Arevalo stated.
Rescue Operations Continue
Aside from combating ASG terrorists and pressuring them to surrender, the AFP is also focused on the continuous rescue operations of the remaining 19 kidnap victims of the ASG-Kidnap for Ransom Group (KFRG).
From November 2016 to date, the combined intelligence and combat operations of the AFP and other partner agencies have enabled the rescue of 35 kidnap victims.
“Our troops are exerting their best efforts to rescue the kidnap victims of the Abu Sayyaf. It remains the utmost priority in our focused military operations against the terrorists,” AFP Chief of Staff, General Eduardo Año said.
Other than the physical efforts in different battlefields, the AFP is pushing for a more comprehensive approach in combating terrorism through conferences with national and international leaders, various studies, and stakeholder engagements.
“The Armed Forces are working round the clock to combat terrorism in all parts of the country, land, sea, and air. You can rely on our military organization to protect the people and the state,” Gen. Año said.