WITH less than two months left on its self-imposed deadline to defeat the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and other terrorist bands in the South, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday said it is confident that it will accomplish the mission.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., AFP spokesman, cited the killing of some ASG leaders and the capture of terrorist camps during massive military operations and the surrender of other terrorists.
“The AFP is right on track. We have achieved important milestones through deliberate military action backed by intense stakeholder engagements,” Padilla pointed out.
He was referring to among others the recent killing of Alhabsi Misaya, one of the notorious sub-leaders of the ASG, and Muammar Askali alias Abu Rami, whose group entered Bohol province last month to sow terror there but was foiled by government forces.
“Besides the neutralization of key terrorist leaders and other lawless elements, the number of firearms and IED [improvised explosives device]recovered, as well as the increasing number of surrenderers and those sending word of wanting to do so, is a significant indicator that demoralization has seeped into the enemies’ ranks and it won’t be long before we see their demise,” Padilla said.
“All the AFP needs to do is see through the completion of its plans against these bandits,” he added.
AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año earlier said the neutralization of these leaders is a devastating blow to the terrorist group and is expected to diminish its capability to sow further terror in Mindanao in southern Philippines.
The AFP has disclosed that military officials have received many more surrender feelers from ASG leaders.
Earlier, Radulan Sahiron, a senior ASG leader was reported to have sent surrender feelers to the military and is willing to help authorities capture or convince other commanders to surrender in exchange for amnesty.
Sahiron allegedly wanted a cut in the bounties offered by the government for other Abu Sayyaf leaders.
He is wanted by the Philippines and the United States on terrorism charges. The US has offered up to $1 million bounty for Sahiron’s capture. FERNAN MARASIGAN