“We are confident we can even finish the job in less than six months,” said Colonel Cirilito Sobejana, Joint Task Force Sulu (JTFS) commander. He made the statement during the visit of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermohenes Esperon Jr., and Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff General Eduardo Año.
Lorenzana and company visited Sulu to oversee the ongoing military operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
He said they are now using all the might of the Armed Forces against Abu Sayyaf terrorist group adding that Philippine Air Force’s FA-50PH Fighter/Surface Attack/Lead-in Fighters Trainer Aircraft (F/SA/LIFTA) aircraft are supporting to destroy the terrorists’ hideouts.
At least 32 Abu Sayyaf members have been killed since January this year. Six have been reported wounded while 23 were apprehended. The biggest fatalities incurred by the Abu Sayyaf is in Sulu province, where 30 were killed, including two sub-commanders.
There are at least 14 battalions assigned in JTFS. On top of that, the military also deployed six Naval gun boats around Sulu island province.
“This is a relentless and sustain military operation. The Abu Sayyaf is on the run. They are disorganized and confused,” he said.
Top security officials also conducted a closed-door-meeting with local government officials. “There will be a whole government approach to address the situation here in Sulu,” Lorenzana said after the closed-door meeting.
He said they will bring to the attention of the President the solutions that they have discussed.
“We should address why kidnapping continues to persist in this area,” Lorenzana said.
The Defense chief emphasized that the military operations against Abu Sayyaf bandits will enter a new “angle” aside from the ongoing focused military operation.
“We need to address the problem in another angle. We need to talk with the stakeholders such as local government officials, community leaders, royal families and religious leaders,” he said. with PNA
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