AFP continues focus operations vs Abu Sayyaf group to rescue remaining hostages

admin   •   June 14, 2016   •   3630


ZAMBOANGA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is not daunted by the latest beheading of the Abu Sayyaf group (ASG) to one of its captives.

According to AFP-Western Mindanao Command, the military is constantly conducting focus operations in Sulu to eliminate the bandits and rescue the remaining captives.

“Our operation is ongoing and we are not ceasing. I believe we are gaining ground but we cannot rush things,” said spokesperson Maj. Felimon Tan.

Based on AFP intelligence report, the bandits still have six captives including the Norwegian national Kjartan Sekkingstad and Filipina Marites Flor who were kidnapped at Samal island in Davao del Norte last year.

They were with Canadian nationals John Ridsdel and Robert Hall. The latter was allegedly the latest to be beheaded because the government refused to give ransom money.

The military believes that the Abu Sayyaf is moving on a limited territory, however, they don’t want to rush the operation as it would jeopardize the lives of the remaining captives.

The AFP admits that the bandits are more familiar with the terrains so they need to be more careful.

“Our military knows how to address the problem but we cannot rush things. We should also consider the safety of the kidnap victims and the safety of our soldiers as well. We cannot use them as bait. That is not our tactic,” explained Maj. Tan.

Meanwhile, the AFP revealed that they have received information about the bandits’ plan to dispose the decapitated body of the beheaded foreigner.

It is also possible that a sub-group of the ASG was the one who did the beheading to divert the attention of authorities.


4 alleged BIFF members surrender in Maguindanao — WestMinCom

Robie de Guzman   •   July 28, 2021

Four alleged members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) have surrendered to authorities in Maguindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) said Wednesday.

In a statement, WestMinCom chief Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. said the relentless focused military operations in central Mindanao have led to the starvation of some terrorists and prompted them to surrender.

Vinluan said the four members of the BIFF-Bungos Faction submitted themselves to the troops of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion (1Mech Bn) at about 11 a.m. on July 27.

“They handed over their firearm including one US cal. 50HB machine gun, one R4A3 Carbine with M203 grenade launcher, one cal. 30 Carbine, and one 7.62mm sniper rifle,” said 1Mech Bn Commander Lt. Col. Cresencio Sanchez, Jr.

Subject personalities were subsequently presented to Col. Pedro Balisi, Jr., Commander of 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade (1Mech Bde), and Shariff Aguak Mayor Marop Ampatuan at the unit headquarters in Barangay Kamasi, Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

The four are currently undergoing custodial debriefing at the 1Mech Bde headquarters, the WestMinCom said.

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of Joint Task Force Central urged the remaining BIFF members to yield and avail of the government’s reintegration programs.

“Now is the best time for you to surrender,” Uy said.

Since January 2021, the AFP said that the JTF Central neutralized a total of 145 BIFF personalities; 69 of which were killed, 74 surrendered, and two were apprehended.

“The offensives of the Joint Task Force Central will continue despite the mounting number of BIFF members who are now deciding to return to the folds of the law,” Vinluan said.

“Rest assured that all our operations adhere to the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws,” he added.

PH Armed Forces promotes Hidilyn Diaz to staff sergeant following historic Olympic win

Robie de Guzman   •   July 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday said weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz has been promoted to a higher rank after clinching the country’s first gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In a statement, the AFP said the Philippine Air Force through its commanding general approved the promotion of Sergeant Diaz to the rank of Staff Sergeant effective July 27.

“We laud and support this move at the General Headquarters to mark SSg Diaz’ remarkable achievements in the field of sports and for bringing pride and glory to our country,” the military said.

The AFP once again congratulated Diaz for her victory.

“The AFP is proud of your accomplishments and may you continue to serve as an inspiration to your fellow service members,” it said.

On Monday, Diaz won the country’s first gold medal in the Olympics after successfully topping the women’s 55-kilogram weightlifting event of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Japan.

Her victory ended the Philippines’ near century-long drought in Olympic gold since it first competed in the games in the 1920s.

DND thanks Duterte for support, vows continued AFP modernization

Robie de Guzman   •   July 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Tuesday expressed gratitude for President Rodrigo Duterte’s efforts to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and improve the benefits and welfare of the uniformed personnel.

In his final State of the Nation Address (SONA), Duterte said that strengthening the capability of the country’s military and police personnel has always been a priority under his administration.

During his term, Duterte said he raised the salaries of the military and other uniformed personnel to a level that is “commensurate to the critical role they play in upholding national security and maintaining order.

The country’s defense capability was also boosted with the acquisition of two missile frigates.

“At the DND, we are grateful for the enduring support of the President for the improvement of the welfare and capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines when he increased the salaries of the soldiers,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement.

“Speaking from the heart in his own, simple and inimitable way, the President showed that even as we aim and work for grandiose goals for our country, at the core of it all is protecting and upholding the dignity of every Filipino from all walks of life,” he added.

While taking pride in their accomplishments in the past five years, the DND chief said there is still a lot of work to be done before Duterte’s term ends in 2022.

Lorenzana also said he will continue to push for the military’s modernization and measures to improve efforts in fulfilling their mandate to secure the country.

“In the remaining 11 months in this administration, we will push for the continued modernization of the AFP, enactment of laws to improve the personnel management of the AFP and focus on the other priorities we set for ourselves when we assumed our posts back in 2016,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)



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