BULUAN, Maguindanao – A total of 17 former members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) have received their provisional livelihood assistance, as promised by Maguindanao’s provincial government.
Governor Bai Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu said Friday the dispersal of the livelihood package was made possible through the provincial government's advocacy "Anak Na May Ginintuang Layunin - Hintuan Ang Violent Extremism Ngayon (AGILA-HAVEN) Program".
The turnover ceremony was held at the Provincial Capitol grounds here Tuesday.
Fourteen of the beneficiaries were from the BIFF-Bungos faction, while three were from the BIFF-Karialan faction.
“They embraced peace because the government offered them an option,” Mangudadatu said. “They made the right choice in returning to the fold of the law.”
With the help of Datu Piang Mayor Victor Samama, the provincial government provided the former BIFF men with farm machinery, consisting of two large-capacity tractors and several hand tractors.
In a separate interview, Brig. Gen. Jose Narciso, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID) assistant commander, also lauded the former rebels for their right and smart decision “for the sake of their families.”
“The Philippine Army and the Maguindanao provincial government are here to help you live normal lives. We will continue to help you but you must help yourself first. Make your new journey productive,” Narciso said addressing the former extremists.
The 17 BIFF members were part of the more than 100 extremists who have surrendered to different units of 6ID in the past 12 months. (PNA)