26 former terrorists end entrepreneurship coaching

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John Unson (Philstar.com) – Aug 13, 2021 – 4:44 pm

TACURONG CITY, Philippines – Former members of a terrorist group affected by deadly bombings in central Mindanao closed a livelihood workshop on Friday as a first step towards their reintegration into local communities.

Brig. General Roy Galido, commander of the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade stationed here in Barangay Kalandagan, said the entrepreneurship development training was facilitated by the Bangsamoro local government ministry.

Galido said 26 former members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters who are now reforming benefited from the three-day activity.

More than a dozen of them were trained in the manufacture of improvised explosive devices and powerful street bombs, the signature weapons of the BIFF.

The training was part of the “Project Tugon” or the government’s initiative to support the needy of the regional government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The BIFF, which has been marked in all fatal bomb attacks in central Mindanao since 2013, operates like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

More than a hundred BIFF members surrendered in the past eight months through the advocacy of Major General Juvymax Uy of the 6th

Galido and Uy thanked BARMM local government minister Naguib Sinarimbo separately on Friday for taking up the Tugon project.

The Tugon project aims to accelerate the return of former BIFF members to majority society through livelihood, psychosocial, education and other humanitarian interventions.

A number of former BIFF members who previously surrendered to the 6th ID are now thriving as farmers in their barangays, according to Uy.

“We have this open arms policy when dealing with those who are willing to avail ourselves of our local peace program for violent religious extremists,” said Uy.

Galido said she expected even more hardcore BIFF members to surrender soon through the efforts of their units and city officials helping advance 6th ID and BARMM’s joint peace programs.