NINE members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) surrendered to authorities over the past weeks including the cousin of ASG and Maute–ISIS leader Isnilon Hapilon who was killed in a military assault in Marawi City.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Public Affairs Office (PAO) chief Colonel Edgard Arevalo said one of the nine bandits who surrendered was identified as Ben Salina Sapilin alias Ben, cousin of Hapilon.
Sapilin surrendered to the 74th Infantry Battalion on October 17, along with Ramu Sapilin and Muhamad Endeng
“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 high-powered firearms,” Arevalo said.
As of press time, the military had already neutralized 325 ASG fighters.
Of the number, 124 were killed in combat operation, 82 were arrested and 119 voluntarily surrendered.
Arevalo said the surrender of the terrorists resulted from the AFP’s combined focused combat, intelligence, and civil-military operations in cooperation with the local governments in the strife area.
He said in September alone, 15 Abu Sayyaf terrorists gave themselves up to the AFP. And on Septermber 30, 2017 thee other ASGs under the late Sub-leader alias Ninok Sappari voluntarily surrendered with their high-powered firearms to the 32nd Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army.
In Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi (BaSulTa) a certain Boy Indama , one of the jail escapees in Basilan Provincial Jail in December 2009 was re-arrested by combined police and military on September 28.
“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,” Arevalo said.