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Abu Sayyaf man who surrendered to AFP was a gov't soldier, says rido drove him to banditry.

Byline: Julie Alipala

ISABELA CITY -- Sulaiman Kasaran was once a soldier of government but for the past five years, he, his sons and nephews were Abu Sayyaf bandits and fugitives.

It all started from a misunderstanding with the Mallatin family that developed into a rido. Mallatin was close to the military and we were (eventually) categorized as Abu Sayyaf. We had no choice then but to side with the group of Nurhassan Jamiri, Sulaiman, 65, said.

But life with the Abu Sayyaf as Abu Jaid was not the thing he dreamed of for himself and his three children, Sulaiman admitted. He wanted to be free to move around and give them real education.

Besides, he fought for the government as a soldier under the 30th Infantry Battalion although he was subsequently removed for having been absent without leave (awol).

On Monday and Tuesday, Sulaiman and his three sons and three nephews finally yielded to the military in Barangay Camalig in Ungkaya Pukan town.

The surrender of the Kasarans, the first such act by any Abu Sayyaf member, did not come easy.

In October 2014, Col. Enerito Lebeco, commander of the 18th Infantry Battalion, sought them out and tried to convince them to return to the fold of the law.

I reviewed their backgrounds. If we want peace, we have to touch base and see face to face these people perceived as lawless. After talking to them, I realized that some of them were forced to support the other side because of rido, Lebeco said as he recounted how he started the negotiations.

He said Sulaiman's family was embroiled in a bloody feud with the family of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) commander Umbong Mallatin.

That feud drove all of the Kasaran clan members to join the Abu Sayyaf as they felt the bandit group could protect them, Lebeco said.

But over the years, the elderly Kasarans died one after another because of clashes with government troops.

Lebeco said only Sulaiman remained of the elderly Kasarans.

The negotiations for the surrender of Sulaiman and his kin struck a positive chord when Mallating recently died of an unspecified illness, he said.

Sulaiman recounted that Lebeco came to them un-escorted, wearing shirts and shorts and unarmed.

We saw in his face sincerity, he said.

Sulaiman said he later agreed to surrender, and on Monday and Tuesday, he and his kin came out of their hiding places and yielded to the military. They also surrendered seven assorted firearms, including six high-powered assault rifles and grenade launchers.

Maj. Gen. Gerardo Barrientos Jr., commander of the Army's 1st Infantry Division, said the surrender was a clear victory for the people of Basilan who yearn for peace and desire to live lawfully and peacefully.

It was also the first time for Abu Sayyaf members to surrender, he said.

Asked if any of the Kasarans were facing cases in court, Barrientos said he knew of nothing so far.

Based on military profiling, the Kasarans had undergone training on improvised explosives device, Islamic radicalism and military tactics. They were closely associated with the group of Jamiri, Furuji Indama and Isnilon Hapilon - who were hardened Abu sayyaf leaders involved in various attacks in Basilan.

Col. Rolando Joselito Bautista, commander of the Army's 104th Infantry Brigade, said that the surrender of the Kasarans proved that talking peace with the Abu Sayyaf could produce results.

He said he expressed hope that more bandits would surrender in the future.

As this developed, Gov. Jum Akbar said the provincial government handed forms of assistance to Sulaiman and his three children, Marwin, Derwin and Halid; and his nephews, Hadzmin Kuluman Kasaran alias Ammin, Faisal Laudmin Kasaran alias Issa and Ballie, and Salman Najallon Kasaran alias Sat and Mhanz.

Sulaiman said the assistance they got would be spent on the education of his children and the purchase of farm implements.
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jan 21, 2016
Words:644
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