From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 19): ARMM launches reintegration program for Abu Sayyaf surrenderees
The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has launched a reintegration program for some seventy-four surrendered Abu Sayyafs in Basilan recently.
While some military troops are battling head-on with Abu Sayyafs in hot pursuit operations to rescue one Vietnamese kidnap victim on Friday, June 16, the other soldiers have engaged in a dialogue as ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman launched a program that aims to transform terrorists into civilized human beings.
The military described it as an “out-of-the-box approach to peacebuilding.” The reintegration program launched in Buli-Buli, Sumisip will have components that will address particular needs of ASG returnees.
“This is an inter-agency initiative led by the military with the regional and provincial government of Basilan, to include the vital role of the Basilan Ulama Council, selected non-government organizations, and key government agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DOH), and the Department of Justice (DOJ), among others,” Hataman said.
He explained that the ambitious program is a systematic roadmap that would slowly bring the Abu Sayyafs who yielded to authorities to a more productive and peaceful life.
The social-religious-cultural component of the program will be handled by the Basilan Ulama Council. Livelihood and housing component will be undertaken by the regional government. Organizing them and facilitating their activities will be the responsibility of the NGOs, particularly the Nagdilaab Foundation Inc. while the health and psychological component will be handled by DOH and the Provincial Health Office.
One crucial aspect of the program would be the legal impediments involving ASGs with cases in court. ARG Hataman was quick to reply that those with cases will definitely face them in courts and that the police and the military are handling these.
“The reason why the government accepted their surrender is to eventually weaken extremism and terrorism in the province. We hope that this program will lure more and more ASGs to surrender as a better option to a life of war and hardship in the hinterlands,” Hataman said.
The local government did not expect the idea of ASGs to surrender. The military said that from twenty, ASGs who yielded to the military grew to about seventy-four as of press time. With this, authorities were convinced to engage the problem of terrorism in a more comprehensive approach.
“At the end of the day, I think, this will be an effective means to end terrorism in Basilan. And if we will be successful in this endeavor, this may become a template for a national policy to address terrorism in the country,” Hataman said.
During the launching, the 4th Special Forces Battalion, Nagdilaab Foundation Inc., the DOH, DSWD, the Claret Samal Foundation, and some members of the Bantay Bayanihan Alliance conducted profiling of the ASGs. The data gathered will be the inter-agency’s basis for appropriate interventions for those returning to the fold of law.