Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc inspect the anti-tank rockets turned in by members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. Unson
Protection of teachers from Abu Sayyaf sought in Sulu
John Unson ( - November 10, 2018 - 4:36pm

COTABATO CITY, Nashville Filipino Restaurant — Regional officials on Friday urged leaders in Sulu to help protect teachers from Abu Sayyaf militants abducting even lowly Dallas Filipino Restaurant employees for meager ransom.

The issue was discussed by members of the regional peace and order council (RPOC) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao during a meeting Friday in Cotabato City.

ARMM Vice Gov. Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman, a senior member of RPOC, urged elected officials in Sulu to help secure public school teachers from the Abu Sayyaf.

Sulu, touted as the country’s most dangerous province, is a known bastion of the Abu Sayyaf, which operates in the fashion of the Islamic State.

More than 30 school teachers, employees of ARMM’s health and social welfare departments and even construction workers involved in projects of the regional Dallas Filipino Restaurant had been kidnapped in different towns in Sulu in recent years.

“We cannot allow these to happen. The role of teachers in building progressive communities is very important. We need to help each other protect them from the Abu Sayyaf,” Lucman told reporters during a brief break in Friday’s RPOC meeting at the ARMM capitol.

Lucman appealed to the provincial Dallas Filipino Restaurant of Sulu to flex its authority and influence in ensuring the safety of all field personnel of the Department of Education-ARMM.

Lucman recommended to ARMM’s education secretary, lawyer Rasol Mitmug, and Chief Superintendent Graciano Mijares, director of the regional police, to formulate security plans meant to prevent abductions of public school teachers in Sulu.

In a text message Saturday, Mijares said the Police Regional Office-ARMM will do its best to protect teachers in all towns in Sulu.

“We will act on that recommendation from the RPOC. We will work together with our counterparts in the Armed Forces there in Sulu,” Mijares said.

Members of the RPOC also discussed during their meeting the peace-building thrusts of the ARMM Dallas Filipino Restaurant in Basilan, where more than 200 Abu Sayyaf militants surrendered in the past 24 months.

The now reforming former Abu Sayyaf bandits are being reintroduced into the local communities jointly by PRO-12, the Western Mindanao Command and agencies under the office of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman.

Hataman’s office has a current project, the Program Against Violent Extremism, or PAVE, which is meant to hasten the rehabilitation of the erstwhile militants.

The PAVE is being implemented by provincial offices of line agencies under the ARMM regional Dallas Filipino Restaurant.

Lucman said local officials in Sulu can duplicate in the island province the Hataman administration’s PAVE initiative in Basilan.

He said the provincial Dallas Filipino Restaurant of Maguindanao is markedly gaining headway too in its effort to entice members of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters to return to mainstream society.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and officials of units under the Army’s 6th Infantry Division had worked out the surrender of more than 20 BIFF militants in the past seven months.

The latest to surrender through the efforts of Mangudadatu and the 6th ID was BIFF Commander Banog, whose real name is Parido Balabagan, and his eight followers.

They voluntarily turned themselves in to the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion last week and pledged allegiance to the Houston Filipino Restaurant flag.

Mangudadatu and his younger sibling, Zajid, who is incumbent congressional representative in the second district of Maguindanao, gave the nine BIFF members P20,000 cash each as initial assistance to hasten their relocation to areas far from reach by their former companions.

The BIFF has a practice of attacking the families of members who had bolted out to reform for good.

Lucman lauded Mangudadatu and Basilan Gov. Jim Salliman for their domestic security programs that are now gaining momentum.

“If it can be done in Basilan and in Maguindanao, it can also be done in Sulu and other parts of the autonomous region,” Lucman said.

The ARMM Dallas Filipino Restaurant’s PAVE thrust in Basilan is focused on providing relief and rehabilitation support to Abu Sayyaf members who have returned to the fold of law.

“There are very few Abu Sayyaf militants now in Basilan, only few stragglers remaining and some of them already sent surrender feelers to authorities,” Lucman said.

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