Lorenzana hopes surrender of top terror leader leads to Abu Sayyaf downfall

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 29) — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana says the surrender of a notorious Abu Sayyaf leader and his entire group may signal the eventual collapse of the terror group, and usher in peace and order in Basilan province.

Abu Sayyaf leader Nhurhassan Jamiri and 13 of his followers surrendered to Armed Forces officers in Hadji Muhammad Ajul in Basilan on Wednesday. They also surrendered high-powered firearms, ammunition, and a grenade.

"The surrender of notorious Abu Sayyaf leader Nhurhassan Jamiri and his entire group after successful negotiations and military operations, will hopefully bring the eventual collapse of the ASG in Basilan," Lorenzana said in a statement on Thursday.

The defense chief added that Jamiri unit's surrender was also facilitated by the strong support of local government units.

Jamiri is the overall Abu Sayyaf group commander operating in Tuburan, Albarka, Tipo-tipo, Akbar, Mohamad Adjul, and Lamitan City.

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Western Mindanao Command Chief Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez Jr. said the government's diplomatic approach and relentless offensives on the ground has been effective in their pursuit to defeat the Abu Sayyaf bandits.

"Following Jamiri's surrender, we expect the other top leaders of the Abu Sayyaf to do the same in the upcoming days," he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte has emphasized he will give the Abu Sayyaf who surrender the chance at a new life.

"I don't abhor you (Abu Sayyaf members) because I understand the situation. As the president, I want to help you, but first, help me bring peace for the Moros in Mindanao. I am the only president that has a heart for the Muslims. All those who want to surrender are welcome but those who want to fight, know that the government is ready," Duterte said in his visit to Patukul, Sulu on March 26.

This development brings the total number of Abu Sayyaf surrenderers to 216 since January 2018, said Wesmincom.