THE Armed Forces of the Philippines has launched an “all-out war” against the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the South, the AFP Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) announced on Monday.
The military vowed to defeat the ASG in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s order for an the intensified conduct of focused military operations launched by the Joint Task Forces Zambasulta in Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
Earlier, Gen. Ricardo Visaya, AFP chief of staff, met with top military officials and soldiers of the Westmincom, telling them about the intensive campaign against the use of illegal drugs.
Visaya spoke before troops of the Philippine Army’s 104th Brigade, in Barangay Tabiawan, Isabela City, Basilan, and troops of the 2nd Marine Brigade in Barangay Busbus, Jolo, Sulu, during his official visit on Sunday (July 10) to discuss operational measures taken by ground troops in defeating the Abu Sayyaf.
The AFP chief of staff then inspected facilities and equipment in Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital stationed in Jolo, Sulu.
Brig. Gen. Retituto Padilla Jr., AFP spokesman, said Visaya conducted assessment and examination of the ongoing operation against the jihadists, lawless elements and other terrorist groups in southern Mindanao to know if there is a need to adjust operational requirements.
“May mga bagay na napag-usapan na hindi ko maibahagi dahil operational po ito, pag ganitong bagay ang unang considerasyon ay mapangalagaan ang seguridad ng ating tropa sa hindi paglahad ng mga hakbang na ito [There are matters discussed that I cannot divulge because they are operational in nature. The primary consideration is the security of the soldiers],” he said.
But the most important thing, according to Padilla, is the guidance of Duterte to rescue remaining hostages of the terrorist group and bring peace to the area.
Maj. Felimon Tan, Westmincom spokesman, said the military has not validated reports of the involvement of ASG in the kidnapping of three Timorese off the waters of Coast Felda Sahabat on Saturday.
Tan said the military continues to intensify intelligence monitoring in collaboration with the police.