A FACILITY dedicated to assisting former members of the Abu Sayyaf will be built in Patikul, Sulu, a known former stronghold of the kidnap-for-ransom group.
The P25-million “reformation center” is funded under the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s (BARMM) budget, the regional government said in a statement on Monday.
“This facility is part of the commitment we’ve made to the (military’s) Western Mindanao Command and the local government unit of Patikul as we joined them in rebuilding the lives of Abu Sayaf Group members who returned to the fold of law,” Bangsamoro Minister for Interior and Local Government Naguib G. Sinarimbo said during the groundbreaking ceremony last Friday.
Mr. Sinarimbo, also the spokesperson of the BARMM government, said the center is envisioned as a “safe space” that will provide skills trainings as well as forums on ideological reorientation.
“We believe that the long term solution is providing them a new (correct) perspective of the interpretation of their religious belief,” he said.
Patikul Municipal Administrator Nasser E. Hayudini said the facility will be an important infrastructure in the reintegration of former insurgents.
“This (center) is important in terms of allowing us to strengthen our guidance of the returnees in their journey towards a new life in society and boosting their trust in government,” Mr. Hayudini said in Filipino.
Commander Benjamin G. Batara of the 1103rd Infantry Brigade based in Sulu said there are already planned interventions for the former armed fighters that could be immediately rolled out at the center.
Since 2017, the Joint Task Force Sulu has recorded 823 Abu Sayyaf returnees. — MSJ