Eleven members of Abu Sayyaf Group, including a minor, on Monday turned themselves in to authorities in Basilan.
Sumisip Mayor Gulam Boy Hataman said, among the bandits who surrendered was a 10-year-old child warrior, who sustained an injury on his back after he was hit by a mortar in a recent encounter in Baguindan, Tipo-Tipo town.
Hataman said, the boy grew up literally holding a gun, and he was also helping in the operations of the bandits against the military.
The boy’s older brother preferred to stay with the group while his other siblings decided to turn themselves in to the government.
Basilan Governor Jim Saliman said Moton Indama, one of the known Abu Sayyaf sub-commanders in Basilan, was also among the bandits who surrendered.
The bandits also surrendered their high-powered firearms and ammunition.
Indama said, he was fed up with the life of a bandit. He said he got tired of constantly having to run and hide.
Indama added he also wants to go to school and have a better life as a civilian.
Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) chief Major General Mayoralgo Dela Cruz said, Indama has a standing arrest warrant for his involvement in Abu Sayyaf’s past criminal activities in Basilan.
Dela Cruz welcomed the decision of Indama and fellow bandits to go back to the fold of government. He believes this is a step closer to achieving long-lasting peace in the strife-torn province.
Dela Cruz, however, said the bandits may still have to face the charges lodged against them.
He said, the provincial and regional governments have prepared a livelihood program for the bandits.
He added, these bandits were influenced by wrong interpretations of Islam, and exploited by some radical terror group leaders.
Meanwhile, Colonel Thomas Donato Jr., commander of 104th Infantry Battalion, confirmed that a suspected Malaysian terrorist was arrested in Maluso town last month.
Donato declined to identify the Malaysian terrorist, who had been helping the Abu Sayyaf Group for the past few months.
The Malaysian was arrested while he was about to escape from Basilan through the southern back-door.