High time to end Abu Sayyaf scourge

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RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

The utterly senseless killings of 14 innocent people enjoying themselves at a night market could still lead to something good for the country, if President Duterte’s government musters the political will to finally wipe out this scourge on the country, the Abu Sayyaf.

It has been a national shame for us that a small group of about 200 young armed Muslims has been able to survive five administrations since 1995, and undertaking kidnappings at will of both Filipinos and foreigners, and even beheading several of them and then heartlessly releasing the video of their horrific act.

What is also really scandalous for our military is that the Abu Sayyaf doesn’t have vast territories like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in which to move around, nor does it have armed encampments. In hindsight, it may have been a better move for then President Joseph Estrada in 1988 to hunt down and destroy the Abu Sayyaf, rather than the MILF.

The Abu Sayyaf has been, since the late 1990s, prowling the jungles of Patikul, Sulu and in the northern parts of Basilan, although the latter appears to have been largely cleared of this ruthless band of murderers. They are mostly the sons (and even grandsons) of veteran fighters of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in the 1970s.


Unlike the MNLF though, these younger insurgents have imbibed the Islamist jihadist cause, with their principal ideologue Abdurajak Abubakr Janjalani (who was killed in 1998) believed to have even met (and later given funds by) the infamous Osama Bin Laden when he fought with the Afghan mujahideens against the Soviets.

What I find inexplicable is that past administrations would undertake an intense hunt for the Abu Sayyaf, right after they undertake kidnapping operations. Once the hostages are released though, usually upon secret payment of ransom (or after they were beheaded), the military slowed down their operations, to revive these only in the next breakout of a kidnapping. Why is this?

While many MNLF fighters who have been integrated into the military have demonstrated loyalty to the Republic, and even made the ultimate sacrifice in battles with Islamic insurgents, there have been consistent reports that the Abu Sayyaf has its moles within the military, mostly distant kinsfolk or townmates.

Duterte kissing a victim of the Davao bombing

Duterte kissing a victim of the Davao bombing

Worse, because of the huge funds at their disposal raised through kidnapping — as much as P200 million, I was told — the Abu Sayyaf has been able to bribe police and even military officials to give them information that has allowed them to escape military operations.

One clear indication of the Abu Sayyaf’s links with the military is that their improvised explosive devices, the kind reportedly used in Friday’s bombing in Davao City, is a relatively simple device of installing a fuse to an artillery mortar shell. There hasn’t been a case of the Abu Sayyaf or the MILF overrunning a military camp rob its mortar shells, nor does any insurgent group have such artillery. The only conclusion is that these mortar shells were sold by unscrupulous military men to the Abu Sayyaf.

The Abu Sayyaf does not really have bases in Sulu and Basilan as the MILF has had in Maguindanao. Instead, they merely hide their arms and go back to their families after a kidnapping or raiding operation has ended.

While such has been the usual advantage of guerillas, it could also be their weakness. The military should require all adult males in the limited territory in which the Abu Sayyaf operates to register, and even appear personally in a military camp. Sooner or later, with good intelligence operatives, our forces could come up with a detailed, accurate list of Abu Sayyaf fighters, and hunt them down one by one the way law enforces hunt down ordinary criminals.

I do think, though, and hope that President Duterte would finally destroy this scourge. The attack on the Davao night market Friday is undoubtedly personal to him. It is his city, and it wouldn’t have happened if he were not President. The Yellow Cult and Liberal Party sympathizers have even mocked Duterte, claiming that after all he can’t keep safe his own city. The Abu Sayyaf scourge had not, till now, become this personal for all the past Presidents. It is something he would extract revenge on even if it becomes the only accomplishment of his administration.

I don’t think, as Duterte hasn’t in the case of the killings in his war against illegal drugs, that his campaign against the Abu Sayaff would be hampered by charges of human rights abuses.

And there would certainly be more serious human rights charges filed against his administration as the Abu Sayyaf families and sympathizers claim military atrocities as they pass through villages in pursuit of the jihadists.

There’s something eerie, even spine-tingling in the manner Duterte visited the Davao morgues right after the attack. He was totally silent, and even kissed on the head a victim’s corpse. It’s as if he whispered something to the corpse, perhaps a vow to never rest until he has killed every single monster in this savage group.

tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com

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35 Comments

  1. Thank you! It’s time to organize special operation of fighting units which are of the guerrilla types who can survive for months or years in the jungles of Sulu to search and destroy/kill with extreme prejudice the members of the ASG. The special units must fight like the ASG as well, no mercy. Fighting ceases only when there are nowhere ASGs to face. Sa umpisa pa lang masyadong loud ang ating mga pwersa dapat tahimik lang, hindi yung nagpapakita kung gaano ka laki ang pwersa. Para sa media dapat bigyan lang ng konting disinformation na parang guerrilla warfare rin ang pag-bibigay. Baguhin lahat ang pakikipag-combat, meaning done by professionals in the art of war.

  2. Burn them out of their lairs and hideouts. How? It’s about time the military use napalm bombs in their bombing sorties.

  3. I remember and so you should – that not so many years ago an American lost his legs in Davao while he was preparing bombs, he was picked up by the FBI and repratiated. Never heard of it ?

  4. Kill them all! No CHR or Delima will try to protect them. These bandits don’t deserve any due process. AFP should get the most advance sniper riffles that can shoot from kilometers away and start target shooting from afar instead of sending battalions on the ground with limited ammunitions and disadvantaged position.

  5. Hindi Na kailangan pa mag hire ng mga Gurkhas para tapusin yan mga Abusayaff. Dapat baguhin ng AFP Ang deployment/employment ng Forces Nila at karamihan Ang nadadale ay yung mga Sundalo Na galing Sa mga infantry units Na walang special training. Gamitin Ang Army Special Operations Command(Scout Rangers, Special Forces), Light Reaction Regiment, Scout Rangers Battalion, Force Recon Marines Battalion, Navy Special Warfare Group(Navy Seal), Special Operations Wing PAF at PNP SAF. Kung itong mga Special Units gagamitin Sa tamang Special Ops Operation eh Mas matindi pa Ang mga yan Sa mga Gurkhas. Lahat ng makabagong hight tech Armas etc nasa kanila Na. You name it nandyan Na Sa kanila Ang special skills Na wala Sa karaniwang infantry units ng AFP. Ang kailangan nating yung drones ng US Forces. Maniwala kayo pag yan Ang pinagalaw(Special Units AFP) uubusin Nila Ang mga Abusayaff. Yung mga karaniwang infantry units ay gamitin bilang pang support lamang at hwag pang front line. Dapat paalisin muna yan mga campo ng mga MNLF at MILF Sa Jolo at Basilan para makagalaw ng husto Ang mga Special Units natin. Hanggang nandyan yan mga campo ng MNLF at MILF eh mahihirapan gumalaw Ang mga Sundalo natin at takbuhan yan ng mga Abusayaff Kapag naiipit Na sila.

  6. Hmmmmm … clue: making an ASG census:….. During kidnapping and ransoming season, only the elderly, women , children , disabled and neuters are left in households when the adult male ASG household members are on the job…..

  7. I agree to Mt Tiglao, after the Abu Sayaf completed 1 after 1 mission of abduction or kidnap they hide their weapon (to the ground may be) and return to their family & live as a normal Filipino.

    The military / government now can study how to strategise the thricks of Abu how they play their game.

    And those military who support Abu Sayap after their bribe collected should jailed them to life to prevent from doing again & again. And if our own Police & Souldiers can not defeat the Abu which only a mole to the military will be shame to our own country. How they can depend us from other similar cases specially if the number are many.

  8. Thank you for this article, RT.

    I first met Mayor Duterte in 1988 when I was in college in Davao City. I went to their (Duterte couple) house in Central Park subdivision one early morning. Back then, one needs to pass three (3) security checkpoints or outposts with armed guards before you can reach his house. I repeat, 3 checkpoints.

    If there is anyone who could wipe out the ASG, I am willing to bet it is Digong. Absent the vulgarity and childish sense of humor, you will see shades of Vito Corleone in him. There is a soft and warm side (an oxymoron) to the ruthless leader that he is to criminals and in the case of the ASG, terrorists.

  9. Traitors / Mercenaries….those who sell firearms and war material to the enemy….. those who make alliances with the Leftists…those who allow the rape of our environment and sell our patrimony to other nations illegally ….those who pledge allegiance to foreign powers and still meddle in Philippine affairs !!!!

    Those who turn a blind eye to drug transhipment on the premise that the contraband will not be consumed locally ??? Smugglers too !!

    Somehow, somewhere, there is a common thread.

  10. WHy can’t we hire mercenaries to eliminate the Abu Sayyaf? Instead of paying ransom to the Abu Sayyaf and making their group stronger, the money can be used to pay mercenaries instead. Even in Iraq, the USA used mercenaries for certain missions.

  11. Mr. Tiglao, the ASG did not only survive 5 administrations, they grow stronger and richer. Apparently the previous administrations only treated them with kid gloves. For why is it that in every encounter with the military the ASG are always outnumbered but never outgunned and never outfought. Recall that when then Pres. Estrada declared all out war against the ASG a military general was quoted as saying “WE WIll PULVERIZED THEM IN 3 DAYS”. Since then thousands of 3 days have passed but the ASG menace is still there. Also in one encounter with the ASG in Basilan a military officer was quoted bragging: “All escape routes (land, air, and sea) are sealed, no way can the ASG escape”. The following day the ASG were safely back in Jolo. Under Duterte’s watch will the military take the ASG problem seriously?

  12. Leodegardo Pruna on

    The efforts and sincere desire of PDU30 to end the Abu Sayaf nuisance would succeed with the cooperation of people especially in the infested areas where the bandits operate. We pray for our President and his advisers to be given the knowledge, strength, and fortitude to address the problem of terrorism and lawlessness. God bless the Philippines.

  13. The Great Defiant on

    There is only one way to end this..
    “PIG’S BLOOD”.
    The American tried it before and very effective.

  14. mikhail hieronymus on

    If Du30 really want to eliminate the Abu Sayed, why can’t he ask the help of the U.S Army. They helicopters, airplanes, bombs, and all the necessary equipment. ( I know all those bleeding heart will cry to high heavens.)

    However, if our Armed Forces, Air Forces, Navy and PNP can not handle those bandits, maybe it is time to hire the Gurkhas, as Du30 stated. Let us be honest about ourselves. I can not believe that so many thousand soldiers can not wipe out a few hundred bandits in such an isolated place. Maybe, I am simplifying the situation and that the situation is more complicated. Ask help from dear Uncle Sam. We have nothing to lose, but PRIDE.

    • hiring the Gurkhas is not a bad idea. they are very disciplined soldiers and expert in commando raids and jungle warfare. they are known globally. they were in most conflicts in the world. India has 6 battalions, UK has 3 battalions, Brunei and Singapore has one battalion each. they are one of the finest light infantry unit in the world. this will be interesting to see as the moros especially the tausugs are fierce fighters too. so lets see who is the fiercest.

      asking the help of the US army is also a good idea. lastly maybe the government need to christianize Sulu and Basilan. all these military operations will make the villages empty and drive out the ASG sumphatizers and communities and send them as refugees to Sabah. then allow christian settlers with weapons to take over the lands for free as long as they develop it. All suspected moro rebel supporters should be detained and send to Sabah or executed if they try to escape. these people are traitors and can never be trusted. they actually do not consider themselves Filipinos.

    • Ignacio Balbutin on

      That’s right, time to set aside personal grudges against the US if there is any and let them help us. They are willing to do it because its their agenda also to fight against terrorism. We don’t need their foot soldiers to join in the battle but we need their hi-tech gadgets, their dornes, their satellite to give us satellite images of the exact location of the abus. Since it is the practice of the abus to disperse and go home when they are pressed down, it’s good to really make a serious census of all their families even get a paraffin test of all the males to know if they just use fire arms

    • No need to hire the Gurkhas. Dapat baguhin ng AFP Ang deployment/employment ng mga Sundalo. Gamitin Ang mga AFP at PNP Special Operation Units( Army Special Operations Command, Light Reaction Regiment, Scout Ranger Regiment, Special Forces Regiment, Force Recon Battalion, Navy Special Warfare Group(Navy Seal), Special Operations Wing PAF at PNP SAF). Itong grupo Na Ito(combine) ay Mas matindi pa Sa mga Gurkhas at highly train and the most equipped in terms of high tech weapons. Yung mga nadadaleng mga Sundalo ay karamihan galing Sa mga infantry units Na wala or limited Ang special skills Sa special operations Kaya sila Ang nauunang casualty. Lastly paalisin lahat ng campo ng MNLF at MILF Sa Jolo at Basilan at dyan Ang takbuhan ng mga Abusayaff kalat naiipit Na sila.

    • HIRE GURKHAS? HIRE LEGIONAIRES?

      Did you know that Filipinos warriors as good or even better!

      It would surprise you to know that the French Foreign Legion started only when first employed Filipino mercenaries. This happened in the 19th century when an epidemic decimated the colonial forces in Indo-China, in desperation the French recruited professional Filipino soldiers from the Spanish colonial government in Manila. Since then they have fought all over the world under the legion, in the Moroccan N African wars, Boxer Rebellion in China, in the Trenches of the Great War I.

      Filipinos once had such a reputation for being fierce fighters that the Sultan of Brunei gave us Sabah as a reward to our warriors for helping put down a rebellion. A Filipino is the first foreign soldier to be awarded the US Congressional Medal of Honor, Filipino Scout, Pvt. Jose Baliton Nisperos, he saved his platoon from a Moro ambush, with even with a severely broken arm pierced by a moro spear, he nevertheless continued to fire his rifle with one good arm, repulsing the attackers and saving his platoon, his exploits originated the term “fought them single handed.”

      Did you know that the Marines are called leathernecks because they wore leather on their necks to protect from Filipino bolo fighters, and also one of the Marines traditional salutations, is “Stand for that man, he was on Samar” which acknowledges the tough Samreno guerrillas they fought against.

      Ironically we are being kept ignorant of our warrior heritage because the Filipino macho warrior image is being emasculated by our own media which forces the lady-boy/transgender image as trendy. No wonder there is less respect for our men in uniform, is there a foreign agenda mass media mind control conspiracy here?

    • If our AFP “can’t handle those bandits”, then the Academy (PMA) that produces its officers is inutile. What it produces are corrupt politicians, coup plotters, fugitives from law, yes men/stand down generals (as in the SAF44 massacre). Better abolish it. Strengthen ROTC. We have very good soldiers, they can be trained perhaps better then Gurkhas & they know Philippine terrain – an advantage over foreigners.

    • Ignacio Balbutin on

      The Ilagas are much fiercer than the Gurkhas, the AFP should enlist their help to terrorize these terrorist

    • I’ve been saying that for months. But that idiot Obama would worry about the asg’s human rights. As if they were actually human!

    • HIRE GURKHAS? HIRE LEGIONAIRES?

      Did you know that Filipinos warriors as good or even better!

      It would surprise you to know that the French Foreign Legion started only when first employed Filipino mercenaries. This happened in the 19th century when an epidemic decimated the colonial forces in Indo-China, in desperation the French recruited professional Filipino soldiers from the Spanish colonial government in Manila. Since then they have fought all over the world under the legion, in the Moroccan N African wars, Boxer Rebellion in China, in the Trenches of the Great War I.

      Filipinos once had such a reputation for being fierce fighters that the Sultan of Brunei gave us Sabah as a reward to our warriors for helping put down a rebellion. A Filipino is the first foreign soldier to be awarded the US Congressional Medal of Honor, Filipino Scout, Pvt. Jose Baliton Nisperos, he saved his platoon from a Moro ambush, with even with a severely broken arm pierced by a moro spear, he nevertheless continued to fire his rifle with one good arm, repulsing the attackers and saving his platoon, his exploits originated the term “fought them single handed.”
      Did you know that the Marines are called leathernecks because they wore leather on their necks to protect from Filipino bolo fighters, and also one of the Marines traditional salutations, is “Stand for that man, he was on Samar” which acknowledges the tough Samreno guerrillas they fought against.

      Ironically we are being kept ignorant of our warrior heritage because the Filipino macho warrior image is being emasculated by our own media which forces the lady-boy/transgender image as trendy. No wonder there is less respect for our men in uniform, is there a foreign agenda mass media mind control conspiracy here?

  15. How true about the ‘rumor’ that members of the Abusayaf are usually drugged (and high) when they fight the Philippine solders?

  16. If Duterte goes all out against the Abu Sayaf, then CHR Chito Gaston and the Yellow Cult would not be far behind, ready to defend the human rights of the Abu Sayaf.

  17. To the military running after the Abu Sayyaf, We leave it all to your judgement. We will accept any collateral damage in destroying these bandits. If you have reason to believe that bandits are hiding in a village, surround the village and search the houses for weapons, let all able bodied men in that village be isolated and quarantined. Extract info from them for whatever means. This is not a POLICE operation where civil rights is to be guaranteed. This is a MILITARY operation. Use your supporting big guns properly. GOOD LUCK!

  18. Ignacio Balbutin on

    There should be complete overhaul of southern command as well as the soldiers if this is true that some military are in collusion with the abus. Let soldiers from visayas and luzon who had no contacts with the abus yet and if possible not a muslim to do the job. The old commandeers should be replaced with new ones who also does not any contacts with the abus yet. Any commanders or soldiers that has been proven to have collusion with the abus should be court martialled immediately