Camp Bautista, Sulu, Oct 20, 2016- Abu Sayyaf members must surrender to preserve countless lives. This is the sentiment of soldiers in Sulu as the BaSulTa Sub-Regional Human Rights Commission (RHRC) and Intenational Monitoring Team (IMT) for the peace process visit Joint Task Force Sulu (JTFS) 4pm Wednesday and whole of Thursday respectively.
The ARMM BaSulTa Sub-RHRC led by Atty Edy Lyn Santiago conferred with JTFS officers on status of human rights awareness of troops and was assured of the compliance of soldiers on Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law and the Rule of Law. JTFS officials cited the case of suspected ASG Pauji Asgari who was arrested last Tuesday. Asgari was treated well, brought to the hospital for medical check-up and was immediately given food.
The IMT on the other hand was led by Malaysian Maj. Gen. Datuk Wir Zamrose who conferred with JTFS and LGU officials on the status of peace process in the province.
Soldiers in Sulu are calling on the ASG to surrender in light of successive encounters which resulted to the death of many ASG members including the neutralization of the notorious Muktadil brothers and the arrest of Asgari by Army troops in Talipao, Sulu on Tuesday.
Soldiers said the arrest of Asgari is essentially a surrender since he did not put a fight. Troops of 41st Infantry Battalion pursuing a group of armed men apprehended Asgari on information of local residents and recovered an M16 assault rifle, ammunition, electric cords, combat pack, cellphone, hammock, motorcycle and Marine Battle Dress Attire.
Soldiers speaking in vernacular said “Its good he did not resist. He and his mother are now glad he is alive. We dont want anyone being killed but if he tried to shoot at us, we will have no choice but to shoot back”.
Asgari’s mother showed up a day after his arrest and thanked soldiers for their kind treatment on his son. JTFS officials assured her and all relatives of ASG that surrenderees will be treated well.
It may be recalled that AFP Chief of Staff, Gen. Ricardo Visaya made a call for the ASG to surrender to preserve lives and for them to have a new life. A week after, 21 ASG from Basilan surrendered.
Brig. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, JTFS commander is echoing the same, “We are calling on the ASG to surrender and stop these kidnapings and all un-Islamic activities so that they may be given chance to live, atone for their crimes and be with their families”.
Reports from communities indicate that many ASG want to surrender but are being held and intimidated by their leaders saying they will be killed by soldiers if they surrender. However, authorities say that is far from truth and that is part of coercion and misinformation ASG leaders feed to their members.
Brig. Gen. Dela Vega said “The humane treatment of our soldiers to the arrested ASG is a proof of the commitment of our toops in respecting Human Rights and protecting the lives of others even those of criminals”.
“We are all losers in this war specially the victims and the people of Sulu. Our soldiers die, many more on the ASG are killed and those who suffer most are the victims and innocent people being displaced due to the atrocities of the ASG”, Brig. Gen. Dela Vega concluded.
Since July, a total of 36 ASG were killed in Sulu and scores were wounded while the AFP suffered 15 killed in action and 28 wounded in action.
The focused military operation launched by the AFP since July resulted to the rescue and recovery of 16 hostages while a total of 12 kidnap victims remain to be rescued.
Released by: Information Support Team, JTF Sulu