MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) units have so far neutralized 68 members of terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) while 128 have surrendered during intense military operations this year.
Data gathered show that 156 firearms and 10 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were either surrendered by or seized from the terrorist group, according to the statement released by AFP public affairs office chief Navy Capt. Jonathan Zata on Sunday.
Recent gains against the ASG include the surrender of two subleaders and 13 members in Jolo, Sulu on Dec. 11.
The 1101st Infantry Brigade facilitated a program for the surrender of ASG subleaders Alvin Yusop and Arab Puti and some of their members including 14 assorted firearms they surrendered to Joint Task Force Sulu.
Three ASG members involved in kidnap-for-ransom consecutively yielded to government forces in Tawi-Tawi from Dec. 2 to 4.
A certain Alsadi Hanain surrendered with his M-1 Garand rifle to the 2nd Marine Brigade in Bongao on Dec. 4 while Bennaser Pae voluntarily surrendered with an M-16A1 rifle and ammunition to troops of Marine Battalion Landing Team-12 on Dec. 3.
Meanwhile, Ugali Alimudin gave himself up to the 36th Marine Company at its headquarters in Sapa-Sapa and turned over an M-14 rifle with magazine and ammunition on Dec. 2.
A total of 36 ASG terrorists along with 11 firearms surrendered to the 4th Marine Brigade in Omar, Sulu on Dec. 4.
“We are currently satisfied with how our troops are continuing our offensives against the ASG, but this does not mean we’re letting our guards down against them or other local terrorists,” AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Gilbert I. Gapay said.
The AFP also achieved significant gains against other Local Terrorist Groups (LTGs) this year as armed encounters against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) led to the death of 31 of their members, while 184 surrendered, and 22 others were captured.
On Dec. 8, operating troops of the 40th Infantry Battalion arrested seven members of BIFF in Datu Hoffer, Maguindanao. Confiscated were two M-1 Garand rifles, one M-14 rifle, and one M-4 rifle.
Troops also engaged BIFF rebels in an encounter in Sharif Aguak last Dec. 9.
The 11th Mechanized Company quelled a possible attack by the BIFF-Karialan faction under “Diok” and recovered live ammunition from enemy positions after the firefight. The 6th Infantry Division clashed with the BIFF in Datu Piang on Dec. 3.
The troops on the ground forced the attackers to withdraw leaving no civilians unharmed.
Meanwhile, 31 members of Daesh-Inspired Maute Group were killed in combat while 35 of them surrendered and five were captured since January of this year.
Gapay said the AFP aims to maintain its firm position in going after the ASG and other terrorist groups despite the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“We will stop at nothing to keep our fellow Filipinos safe and secure from the despicable acts of terrorism and violent extremism. Your AFP, hand in hand with other government agencies, stakeholders and local government units shall continue to unite to ensure the downfall of local terrorist groups threatening our peace,” he added. (PNA)