• ‘Crush Sayyaf,’ Duterte tells AFP anew

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    PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has reiterated his order to government forces to crush the Abu Sayyaf kidnap and terror group.

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    Duterte issued the directive during the joint command conference of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Malacañang on Friday.

    “The President stressed his commitment to end the [lawless activities]of the ASG, Abu Sayyaf Group,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in an interview aired over government-run dzRB.

    The President also reiterated his orders to stamp out corruption and end the country’s drug problem, he said.

    The command conference is an annual gathering of the President with the AFP and the PNP.

    SERIOUS BUSINESS President Rodrigo Duterte leads a joint command conference of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in Malacañang on January 6. Also in the photo are (left) Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. (third from left). MALACAÑANG PHOTO

    SERIOUS BUSINESS President Rodrigo Duterte leads a joint command conference of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in Malacañang on January 6. Also in the photo are (left) Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. (third from left). MALACAÑANG PHOTO

    The Abu Sayyaf belongs to a loose network of terrorists formed in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network, and has earned millions of dollars from kidnappings-for-ransom.

    It is also holding over a dozen Malaysian and Indonesian sailors in the restive Mindanao region.

    Aside from AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año and the PNP chief, Director General Ronald de la Rosa, also present were Cabinet officials, including Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon.

    During the conference, Abella said Duterte was given an update on the national security situation and law enforcement activities of the police.

    Also on Friday, top military and defense officials discussed the “Development Support and Security Plan Kapayapaan,” in which the new priority is the destruction of terrorist groups like the Abu Sayyaf Group, the Maute Group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and other foreign and local terrorist groups.

    The new six-year security plan replaces the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) “Bayanihan” that was implemented in January 2010 and expired on December 31, 2016.

    Put into operation by the previous Aquino administration, IPSP Bayanihan was the subject of criticism by leftist groups seeking a peace deal with the government.

    CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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