ARMM to rehab ex-Abu Sayyaf terrorists

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COTABATO CITY: The government agencies under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will introduce an intervention package for former Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) terrorists who surrendered recently to determine appropriate solutions to the Islamic militancy without blood shed and destruction.

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At least 21 hardcore bandits, who admitted to having participated in deadly harassments of non-military targets and roadside bombings in the past years, surrendered through the Army’s 64th Infantry Battalion (IB) and Mayor Gulam Hataman of Sumisip town in Basilan.

ARMM Regional Gov. Mujiv Hataman on Friday said the ARMM’s Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team (ARMM-HEART) will immediately extend to the former ASG members both livelihood and spiritual assistance.

Hataman said the local council of Islamic leaders like the Ustadz or the Ulama (learned in Islam) will provide spiritual re-orientation lessons for them to re-embrace a “moderate” kind of Islam and do away with extremism.

The ARMM regional governor noted that radical preachers, just to advance their self-vested interests, are circumventing Islamic teachings on jihad, supposedly only implying rejection of sinful acts to achieve spiritual perfection.

“We have proven time and again that use of force alone cannot address the nagging rebellion problem in the Moro homeland. Even this religious extremism now plaguing some areas in Mindanao cannot be solved by use of force alone,” Hataman stressed.

The returning bandits took their oath to reform for good, respect the Philippine flag and swore allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and help protect their villages from further attacks by their former comrades.

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