By Claire Gigje
PIAGAPO, Lanao del Sur (PIA)–Former violent extremists (FVEs), who have decided to surrender and are now blending into the normal society, are looking back on how they used to be and comparing it to the situation they are currently living in now.
Alias Rasul from the municipality of Piagapo in the province here recalled that before he yielded his life to authorities, he was scared that he might be caught and killed but at the present, he can already go wherever he wants without anything to worry.
“Ang buhay ko ngayon ay okay na kasi dati, nagtatago ako at paiba-iba ang pinupuntahan kong lugar. Sa ngayon, okay na ang buhay ko kasi kahit saan, pwede akong pumunta nang malaya,” he said.
[My life now is much okay because before, I hid by going to different places. Now, my life is better because anywhere, I can already go freely.]
Rasul thanked the local government of Piagapo, the OPAPRU, and the security sector for becoming a bridge as they shared their concerns with the government.
He was delighted to feel that they are not forgotten.
Rasul also urged his brothers and sisters who are still operating as violent extremists to surrender as their fight will only be put to waste.
“Sinasabi ko sa inyo na walang pupuntahan ang pinaglalaban niyong jihad kasi ang ipinaglalaban niyong jihad ay hindi jihad na alam ko na tutulungan ang kapwa mo para isecure ang lugar mo. Sana makipag-usap na kayo sa gobyerno para makamit natin ang kalilintad sa lugar natin,” he said.
[I am telling you that the jihad you are fighting for has nowhere to go because your jihad is different from the jihad that I know which is to help your fellowmen secure your place. I hope you already talk with the government to achieve peace in our place.]
Meanwhile, alias Fai also from the same municipality shared as well how relieved he was to have returned to the fold of law.
“Okay na ang buhay namin kasi kahit papaano, nakakagawa kami ng paraan para sa mga pamilya namin. Dati, hindi kami makatulog at ang mga pamilya namin, hindi kami nagkikita-kita,” he said.
[Our life is already okay because we can at least make a way for our families. Before, we could not sleep and could not see our families.]
Fai likewise extended his gratitude to the government for still remembering them even if years have already passed.
He said the government still listens to their concerns and sees how they are doing in their communities.
Alongside his gratefulness, Fai called on his former comrades to go back to the government and be normal citizens again.
“Sa mga nasa loob, sana makapag-isip sila na bumaba sila para hindi na sila magtago,” he said,” he said.
[To those who are still inside, I hope they can already think to go down so that they will not hide anymore.] (CRG/PIA-10/Lanao del Sur)