ZAMBOANGA CITY: The Philippine military on Saturday, March 18, said 13 Abu Sayyaf terrorists had surrendered in the southern province of Sulu with officials calling on other pro-Islamic State (IS) gunmen to return to the fold of the law and live peacefully with their families.

Col. Taharuddin Ampatuan, commander of the 1103rd Infantry Brigade, said the eight terrorists surrendered in Indanan town on March 15 and two more turned themselves in the town of Kalingalan Caluang.

He said the terrorists also handed over six firearms.

It was unclear why the military announced the surrender only on Saturday.

The Philippine Navy said three other Abu Sayyaf members surrendered on March 16 on Pata Island, which is part of Sulu, and handed over a rifle and two .45-caliber pistols, and two magazines.

Maj. Gen. Ignatius Patrimonio, commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu and the 11th Infantry Division, confirmed the surrender of the Abu Sayyaf gunmen and called on other terrorists to lay down their weapons.

"The security landscape of Sulu is continuously improving. I, therefore, urge the remaining ASG remnants to lay down your firearms and live peacefully with your families while you still can," he said.

Patrimonio said the continuing surrender of Abu Sayyaf fighters "is a clear manifestation that we are achieving our common goal of inclusive peace and sustainable development in the province. Rest assured that with our active collaboration with the local governments, we will assist the said ASG returnees in availing the government programs which could benefit them and their families."

He said since January, a total of 59 terrorists have surrendered to the military in Sulu province, which is part of the Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.

2023-03-18T16:13:16Z dg43tfdfdgfd