41 DRUG PEDDLERS YIELD TO ARMY IN MAGUINDANAO
DRUG SURRENDERERS. The 41 members of the illegal drug group operating in Sultan sa Barongis, Maguindanao during the ceremonial surrender rites conducted by the military and local officials on Friday (Jan. 11) in remote Barangay Bulod. (Photo courtesy of 33rd Infantry Battalion)
SULTAN SA BARONGIS, Maguindanao -- A total of 41 members of an illegal drug syndicate indirectly supporting Islamic State-linked Moro rebels have voluntarily surrendered to government authorities here, the Army has said.
The surrender transpired in the public school of the far-flung barangay of Bulod on Friday morning.
The surrenderers were led by known drug ring leaders Teddy Biang, 55, and Anwaruddin Biang, 46, who were sourcing their stuff from the Islamic State-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) operating in the vast Maguindanao marshland.
They were accepted by Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, commander of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion, representatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, and civil officials.
Cabunoc said 17 of the surrenderers were drug traffickers while the rest were self-confessed drug users and peddlers.
After their voluntary surrender, they were presented by Cabunoc to Mayor Ramdatu Angas of this town.
“I am grateful that you have finally decided to support our government’s campaign against illegal drugs. We will closely monitor your sincerity in reforming to become productive citizens of this country,” Cabunoc said.
Angas then urged the drug personalities to help eradicate the drug menace that had been haunting Bulod village.
“Help the authorities in tracking down the remnants of your group. Let us work together in transforming this village (into) a peaceful community,” the town executive said.
The Philippine Army deployed the 33rd Infantry Battalion to Bulod in November 2018 to address the terrorist threat and the proliferation of illegal drugs coming from the Liguasan Marsh.
Cabunoc quoted Biang as telling him that a BIFF member with the alias, “Kasili”, was their main source of the prohibited drugs.
“He delivered the prohibited drugs to us by motorized banca. He normally buys provisions from the market after collecting the payment,” Biang said in the vernacular.
Major Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said that the surrender of the drug ring members would further weaken the BIFF terror group.
“Drug money sustains the terrorist members who are hiding in the Liguasan Marsh. With this current development, we have strangled their resources,” Sobejana added.
Cabunoc said his unit had been using a combination of combat operations, community engagements, and civil affairs activities in neutralizing threat groups in its area of operation.
Since February 2017, the unit has successfully facilitated the surrender of 203 communist rebels and 32 BIFF members, setting a benchmark in the conduct of military operations in its war against distinct threat groups. (PNA)