The flux of ISIS-Maute returnees, now numbering to more than a hundred, prompted the Philippine Army’s 103rd Brigade to initiate a special program to cater for the returnees.
“We are on the preliminary stages of implementing a reintegration program for the Maute-IS returnees” said Col. Romeo S. Brawner, Commander of the 103rd Brigade based in Marawi City.
Col. Brawner, a former commander of the Civil-Military Operations Regiment, is no new to collaboration and civic engagements.
“We are pooling up partners for the program. It will start with a comprehensive profiling of our returnees to know their background, identify their needs and vulnerabilities. It also includes interviews as to why the joined the movement.”
Brawner said that the program will serve as a definitive basis on projects that will be implemented to vulnerable communities and prevent them to be dragged to violent extremism.
“We will use the data as a definitive reference to give us an access on the psychology of local Maute-IS returnee. So far, we have been adapting foreign literature on how to combat violent extremism, and it may not necessarily apply to our country due to cultural differences” Col. Brawner said.
Going after the Maute-IS remnants was among Col Brawner’s stated priorities when he took over 103rd Infantry Brigade last December 2018.
“We will employ an arsenal of both lethal and non-lethal means to dissuade our enemies to fight. The lesser engagements we have, the better, but if they chose to resist, then they will at the lethal end of our focused military operations”
Brawner also said that the program intends other fighters to lay down their arms in exchange for a peaceful life.
“We are giving them a chance to live a peaceful and meaningful life. We are calling on the remaining Maute-IS fighters to surrender peacefully to the nearest military installation before the next combat operations falls into your doorsteps. Take this offer now before it’s too late.” Col Brawner said.