THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday said it is confident that it can meet a timetable of six months to decimate the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
The promise came after Gen. Eduardo Año, AFP chief of staff, visited government troops of the Joint Task Force Sulu in Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista in Sulu province in southern Mindanao.
He ordered soldiers to speed up the campaign to strategically eliminate the ASG within the specified time frame, or up to June 30, 2017.
“They [the ASG terrorists]are no match to us,” said the AFP chief who directed the troops to “operate at full speed, double or increase the operational tempo some more.”
“We have actually perfected the art of combined and joint operations. We saw the inter-play among major services, and the inter-play of ground troops to deliver in different lines of operation, the maneuvers, the fire support and the combat leadership,” Año added.
During his visit, he awarded new Glock pistols to military officers who led successful operations against the ASG that resulted in recovery of 77 high-powered firearms, including a .50 caliber machinegun, M-16 rifles, M-14 rifles, Garand rifles and carbines, and ammunition.
The military said it is the biggest haul so far in less than two months.
“I congratulate everyone, especially with these firearms recovered, that are laid in front of us, in just less than two months,” Año said.
Midway through the AFP’s campaign against terrorism, he said he is confident that the six-month deadline will be met.
Since January 2017, the military has killed 47 ASG members in fierce firefights.
This tally, according to Año, does not include reports of wounded terrorists who eventually died based on intelligence reports.
The AFP rescued 12 kidnap victims since the start of the year, including five Malaysians and two Filipinos recovered by troops under JTF-Sulu in March.
“We are confident that we shall be able to complete the first phase of our six-month campaign with positive results. We shall continue with our momentum and finish our mission to defeat and incapacitate the terrorist Abu Sayyaf to finally pave the way for further development and progress here in Mindanao,” Año said.