ARMM leads handover of former Basilan Sayyaf camp to civilian authorities
BASILAN – Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao witnessed the turnover ceremony of a village which was previously used as hideout of the Abu Sayyaf following its liberation by the military recently.
Hataman said the handover marked the restoration of government authority in a former Abu Sayyaf Group stronghold in the village of Baguindan in Tipo-tipo town.
The military overran the said Abu Sayyaf stronghold following an offensive operation against the notorious group.
Lt. Col. Ernest John Jadloc, commander of the 74th Infantry Battalion, said the camp was seized after a month-long operations involving members of the 18th and 64th Infantry Battalions, Scout Rangers, and Special Forces. He said the operations were also meant to bring back government authority and social services in areas overran by the terror group.
Governor Hataman called for unity in achieving long lasting peace as he spoke to hundreds of residents present in the event. “It’s about time for this place (Baguindan) to receive various programs and projects from the government,” Hataman said, as he vowed to pour projects in conflictaffected areas.
“Ang Baguindan ay para sa Baguindan. Nandito kami para protektahan ang mga tao dito (Baguindan is for Baguindan. We are here to protect the people),” he added.
Mayor Arcam Istarul of Tipo-tipo town expressed his gratitude to the government and security forces who neutralized the lawless elements in their area. “We will help the people of Baguindan through livelihood projects,” Istarul said.
Baguindan’s village chief Bisahari Hantian said: “We want our place to be a peaceful one.”
Saida Abubakar, 57, a resident of the barangay, said that they are glad that the government never forgot them throughout the ordeal. “Sana po ito na talaga ang umpisa ng pagbangon ng lugar namin. Sapat na po ang mahigit 40 years na pauli-ulit kaming nag-eevacuate,” Abubakar said.
After the ceremony, the ARMM government conducted a People’s Day to provide free services such as medical consultation and check-ups, along with the distribution of hygiene kits. Present during the event were ARMM Regional Vicegovernor Haroun Alrashid Lucman Jr., Anak Mindanao party-list representative Sitti Djalia Turabin-hataman, and other ARMM officials.
The region’s humanitarian emergency action response team (ARMMHEART) provided also relief packs to 1,574 families in Baguindan and Silangkum villages, and in Al-barka town.