MIDSAYAP, North Cotabato – Military and local officials here have welcomed the surrender of 14 members of the extremist Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who all wished to live peaceful lives once more, military officials said Saturday.

Lt. Col. Edgardo Vilchez, 34th Infantry Battalion (IB) commander, said the BIFF group surrendered before them Friday afternoon at their headquarters in Barangay Salunayan.

“Twelve of the BIFF combatants were adults while two were minors,” he said.

Vilchez, who presented the BIFF batch to Col. Jovencio Gonzales, 602nd Infantry Brigade commander, during the surrender rites, said the group also turned in seven high-powered firearms that included an M-16, a Garand, and M14 rifles, two .50-caliber modified Barret sniper rifles, a 7.62mm modified sniper rifle, a .45-caliber pistol, and various ammunition.

In a statement Saturday, Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander, lauded the efforts of the 34IB and the local government of Midsayap for the facilitation of the rebels’ surrender.

“This is part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s marching order and the 6ID, together with the Joint Task Force Central, is dedicated to achieving this (surrender of rebels),” Uy said.

Gonzales, meanwhile, noted that Friday’s submission of 14 BIFF fighters was preceded by the surrender of another BIFF member on Thursday before 34IB officials.

“Hopefully this realization amongst the ranks of the BIFF and Dawlah Islamiya will continue,” Gonzales said.

Uy reiterated that the 6ID will not stop pursuing violent extremists who refuse to peacefully surrender. (PNA)