Senator Grace Poe on Sunday called on government forces to pursue the Abu Sayyaf rebels behind the killing of 18 soldiers in Basilan.
“These terrorists should be immediately pursued and crushed by the full might of our military and police forces, with due regard for the safety of the innocent civilians,” Poe said in a statement.
She added that those who support terrorist groups like the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) should be exposed and answer for their criminal acts.
Poe asked the national government to make sure that the needs of the families of soldiers who were killed and wounded in the encounter are provided immediately.
“Once more, this incident highlights the importance of giving priority to the needs of our soldiers and policemen to prevent regrettable incidents like this. This should never happen again,” she said.
Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. also on Sunday urged the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to disclose details of the clash between the soldiers and Abu Sayyaf terrorists.
“We need a full picture of the encounter. We should not hide these details. The Filipino people and most especially the families of the soldiers killed and wounded deserve to know the whole truth,” Marcos said.
He observed that the military went silent after the incident.
“Here were go again. We are again in the dark of what happened,” Marcos said, reminding the military of the killing of 44 police commandos by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and other separatist forces in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. It took several weeks before police officials made a public pronouncement on who ordered the operation called Oplan: Exodus.
He added that the AFP should disclose who led the operation against the ASG and the exact purpose of the operation in an area controlled by the armed group.
“Who was in charge of the operation? What was the exact objective of the operation? We need answers because this is something that strikes a chord with every Filipino because of the Mamasapano incident a year ago,” the senator, a leading candidate for Vice President in the May 2016 elections, pointed out.
Vice President Jejomar Binay also expressed his sympathies to the families of the 18 soldiers who died in Basilan.
“Ipinapaabot ko ang aking pakikiramay sa mga pamilya ng ating mga magigiting na sundalo na pumanaw sa Basilan [I extend my condolences to the families of our brave soldiers who died in Basilan],” Binay said in a statement.
“Ang masaklap na pangyayaring ito ay paalala sa atin na dapat tugunan ang problema ng kahirapan, na siyang ugat ng kawalan ng kapayapaan sa Mindanao [This tragic incident is a reminder to us that the problem of poverty, from which stems the lack of peace in Mindanao, should be addressed],” he added.
WITH JAIME R. PILAPIL AND JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA