MAGUINDANAO, BARMM, Philippines –– Were it not for Mayor Baileah G. Sangki of LGU–Ampatuan, Army 1st Lieutenant Paquito Lustria Jr. and to other unnamed people who helped them surrender, “Kumander Copra” of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), who stood as leader of four (4) other rebels, would still be fighting against the government.
BIFF is an “Islamist militant” group founded by the late Ameril Ombra Kato based in Mindanao, Philippines. It is active in Maguindanao province. It is known as a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that forged a peace agreement with the government.
In an article written by George Soriano, publisher of the Eagles Journal, it said that while Kumander Copra was giving his message, he expressed his gratitude to those people who helped them decide to grab the opportunity to surrender offered by the government.
Kumander Copra also narrated and told the reasons why they decided to return to the fold of law.
“Sumuko kami dahil ayaw na naming madamay ang mga tao, lalo na ang mga magsasaka, at gusto na naming mamuhay ng tahimik,” Soriano, quoting Kumander Copra, said.
The BIFF rebel commander stressed the “future” of their children as one of the main reasons why they surrender. “Gusto naming makapag–aral ang aming mga anak at mamuhay sa kanila na kasama kami,” Soriano, qouting again Kumander Copra, said.
Last Tuesday, March 16, Kumander Copra and four of his men were formally introduced by Lieutenant Colonel Cresencio G. Sanchez Jr. (GSC), commanding–officer of the 1st Mechanized Battalion, to the AFP officials and guests during the “Presentation of Rebel Returnees” held inside the 1st Mechanized Infantry (Maaasahan) Brigade Armor (Pambato) Division, Philippine Army (PA) in Barangay Kamasi, Ampatuan, Maguindanao, BARMM.
The five returning–BIFF warriors brought with them six high–powered assorted firearms. The turning–over of the said firearms was led by 1st Mechanized Brigade Commander Colonel Pedro C. Balisi Jr. (MNSA), who thanked the LGU–Ampatuan, particularly Mayor Sangki, for the support to the programs and projects of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Colonel Balisi also conveyed his appreciation to the “Balik Loob Program” of Maguindanao Governor Bai Mariam Sangki–Mangudadatu.
The rebel returnees cited their “pledge of loyalty” to the government and to the Holy Qur’an. It was officiated by invited Imam Mohamad Yahiya Magangcong, who wished them “happy life” with their families.
Colonel Ferdinand B. Lacadin (MNSA), deputy brigade commander of the 1st Mechanized Brigade, described the moment as “historical event” in the effort of the government in encouraging rebels to surrender in his opening remarks.
LGU–Ampatuan Municipal Administrator Abdulbasit B. Langcap, who stood on behalf of Mayor Sangki, and Vice Mayor Bai Yasmin S. Mangudadatu led the turned–over of “financial and relief assistance” to the returning BIFF rebels.
Municipal Information Officer and Secretary to the Mayor Bai Aimee K. Sambulawan, MILGOO Hanan Ampatuan, Ampatuan Police Chief Lieutenant Lucky Seigfred R. Sibayan, members of the LGU–Ampatuan’s Sangguniang–Bayan (SB) and barangay captains gladly welcomed the returning rebels during the ceremony. (RASHID RH. BAJO/Photo credit to Hope Teodoro)