ON or before he retires from the service next month, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya wants the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) totally decimated, a military official said on Tuesday.
Visaya said he is optimistic that the military will beat his self-imposed deadline on December 8, when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56, according to Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the AFP Public Affairs Office.
“He is personally monitoring the developments, he is receiving briefings as regards the development on the ground and he is still optimistic that he will be able to beat the [deadline], he will be able to complete what he wanted to do before the end of his term,” Arevalo said.
During the 3rd Quarter Command Conference at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City last month, Visaya ordered the 125,000-strong military to use all available war materiel to finish off the Abu Sayyaf.
“Let us use all available tools of war in inflicting not just physical destruction but also in rendering a psychological blow against the ASG. Ensure their isolation from their local support system and make the communities resilient against the influence of terrorists,” he told military commanders.
Since July this year when government forces started an all-out offensive against ASG strongholds in Sulu and Basilan, Arevalo said the military inflicted serious blow against the extremist group.
“[We should not only look at the decimation of the Abu Sayyaf but also at our gains particularly at the support of our people that explains the surrender of a number of ASG members with their firearms],” he noted.
From July to October 30, Arevalo said there were at least 70 jihadists killed in Sulu and Basilan.
The all-out offensive also resulted in the wounding of 22 ASG members and the capture of 32 others.
A total of 34 Abu Sayyaf bandits also surrendered to authorities during this period.
On the government side, 15 soldiers were killed while 28 others were wounded in action.