MANILA— The decision of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) senior leader Radullan Sahiron to surrender speaks well of the effectiveness of the government’s ongoing neutralization campaign against the bandits, said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo Monday.
“It (Sahiron’s announcement) shows that the government strategy against the ASG is on the right track,” he said.
The AFP is using a combination of force and development diplomacy in reducing the ASG threat in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
The AFP official said this development a welcome shows that even among hardened bandits there is still a chance for them to reform and redeem themselves in the community.
Earlier, Western Mindanao Command (WMC) head Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez said the one-armed bandit leader has plans to surrender due to old age.
One of the conditions set by the ASG leader is that the Philippine government will not turned him over to the US government.
Sahiron is the leading figurehead of the ASG in Sulu after most of the founding leaders of the group were killed.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has set a USD1 million reward for the capture of Sahiron.
“We see that not only those in the lower ranks of the ASG are expressing their desire to surrender because they’re already feeling the heat of the military operation. And they also feel the sincerity of the President to accept people who wanted to surrender,” Galvez said.
The total number of surrendered Abu Sayyaf members has reached 16, following the order of President Rodrigo Duterte to finish off the Abu Sayyaf in six months. The deadline will lapse on June 30.
There are over 40 Abu Sayyaf members who have been killed in the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi since January.