AFP chief Gen. Ricardo Visaya, in a report to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, said 56 of the 94 bandits were killed in 579 military operations that also resulted in the capture of 17 others and the surrender of 21. Three of them were Basilan and Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf leaders identified as Nelson Muktadil, Braun Muktadil and Mohammad Said. File photo
A total of 94 Abu Sayyaf members have been neutralized during the military’s massive and focused anti-terror drive in Basilan and Sulu within the first 100 days in office of President Duterte, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reported yesterday.
AFP chief Gen. Ricardo Visaya, in a report to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, said 56 of the 94 bandits were killed in 579 military operations that also resulted in the capture of 17 others and the surrender of 21. Three of them were Basilan and Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf leaders identified as Nelson Muktadil, Braun Muktadil and Mohammad Said.
“Three other leaders (of the bandits) were also killed but were not identified as their bodies were dragged away by their fleeing comrades. They were nonetheless reported by reliable informants to have been buried in known locations under customary Muslim practice and traditions,” Visaya said.
The military also launched 44 combat operations against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and other foreign and local terrorist groups in Central Mindanao as well as the Maute group based in Lanao.
The anti-terror drive, Visaya said, also resulted in the neutralization of 50 personalities of the two homegrown terror groups and seizure of a large cache of high powered firearms, ammunition and bomb-making materials.
Visaya further reported that within the first 100 days of Duterte, government forces were able to solve the Davao City night market bombing with the arrest of the suspects – TJ Magaya Macalabang, Wendel Apostol Facturan and Musali Mustapha – on Oct. 4.
This was 32 days after the carnage that left 15 innocent civilians dead and 70 others wounded.
Musali’s father, Teng Mustafa, was also collared in a combined military and police court-sanctioned raid in Cotabato City for illegal possession of firearms and explosive materials.
The three, tagged as members of the Maute group, apparently launched the bombing to divert the attention of the military that had been hitting hard the Abu Sayyaf bandits in Sulu and Basilan.
In the same period the AFP also reported that the ceasefire declared by both the government and the communists in line with the resumption of peace negotiations was holding.
“Armed confrontation between the AFP and the NPA (New People’s Army) finally ceased after the President restored the declaration of ceasefire on Aug. 21. The unilateral ceasefire declaration effectively reimposed the suspension of military operations (SOMO),” Visaya said.
Visaya said the AFP’s anti-illegal drug campaign, through interagency efforts, also enhanced the efficiency and effectiveness of the steps taken by the military leadership to end the proliferation of illegal drugs in the country.
Cleaning its own backyard first, the AFP’s Task Groups Jacob, Midas, Joshua and Salamander conducted random drug tests on 19,163 uniformed and civilian personnel, 44 of whom tested positive for drug use.
Disciplinary actions were taken against these drug violators in the service.
Visaya also reported that ground troops were in full support of Oplan Tokhang of the Philippine National Police (PNP), an effort that resulted in the arrest of 191 suspected drug users and pushers, the surrender of 689 others and the killing of eight drug offenders in 169 anti-illegal drug operations.
The AFP, however, lost three soldiers in the drug war that also left five enlisted personnel wounded during a joint anti-narcotics operation against the group of Moks Masgal, a drug supplier, based in Barangay Nabalawag, Midsayap, North Cotabato last Aug. 14.
AFP modernizationWhile the Duterte administration has yet to have a concrete plan to modernize the AFP, the military establishment has received its third Del Pilar class frigate from the United States.
The new high-endurance cutter named BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF17) was a decommissioned US Coast Guard vessel. The ship is due to arrive in the country by December.
The AFP is also awaiting the arrival of the second brand-new strategic sealift vessel, christened BRP Davao del Sur, following its launch last month in Indonesia. The first SSV is now in the service of the Philippine Navy.
Airmen from the Philippine Air Force (PAF) likewise flew home over the weekend its fifth newly refurbished C-130 Hercules cargo plane that the previous government acquired from the US.
The Army, on the other hand, received additional 32 engineering equipment from various sources last Aug. 30.
All these recent military acquisitions of big-ticket items were still part of the previous government’s modernization program to bolster the Philippine military’s territorial and external defense amid the South China Sea dispute with China.
Duterte, meanwhile, has no plans to pursue the military’s modernization program for territorial and external defense of the previous government, declaring that the military should first focus its efforts on addressing internal security threats.