Philippine army withdraws martial law recommendation for Sulu

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 31, 2020   •   630

The Philippine Army has withdrawn its recommendation to re-impose martial law in Sulu province after the twin blast incident in Jolo which killed 15 and injured 74 individuals.

Army Chief LtGen. Cirilito Sobejana said they respect the decision of the national leadership as well as the sentiment of the general public.

“I drop my recommendation for martial law declaration over Sulu despite the turmoil as there might be other better options,” he said in a statement.

“I always give due respect to the wisdom of our national leadership and the sentiment of the general public but I felt it appropriate to share with you that the military had displayed utmost professionalism and maturity during our martial law implementation in Sulu when I was the JTF (Joint Task Force) Sulu Commander in 2017,” he added.

Local officials have earlier expressed their opposition to the re-imposition of martial law in Sulu. AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

Terror threats in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi declined in past 2 years – WestMinCom

Robie de Guzman   •   May 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The number of terrorist threats observed in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao have significantly dropped in the last two years, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) chief Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan Jr. said.

Data from the military’s Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu showed that from July 1, 2020 to May 2, 2021, the force had 38 encounters with Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and has neutralized 260 of its members; 34 of which were killed, 42 apprehended, and 184 surrendered.

In the first quarter of 2021, JTF Sulu said ASG now only have 132 of its manpower compared to its 282 and 145 members in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

The military also observed a significant decrease in ASG’s firearms this year with only 147 left when it used to possess 330 weapons in 2019 and 155 in 2020.

The JTF Sulu further said that there was also no recorded terrorist acts perpetrated by the local group this year, noting that their last attack was the two explosions in Brgy. Walled City in Jolo, Sulu on August 24 last year.

According to JTF Sulu, it is its mission to conduct military operation to defeat ASG, and support the government peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in order to “significantly contribute to the peace, security, and development efforts of the Government in Sulu province.”

“Military action is only a small factor in combatting terrorism, the major factor here is the assistance (from the Bangsamoro Government),” Vinluan was quoted as saying in a statement released by the Bangsamoro government.

“We need your help to finally end the conflict in Sulu,” he added.

For his part, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Chief Minister Ebrahim said the interim Bangsamoro Government has been put to place to assure that the people gets its well-deserved peace and sustainable development after years of conflict and unrest.

“When we signed the peace agreement with the national government, we knew that this transition period would not be an easy track. We also acknowledge that there are still splinter groups and extremist organizations that would provide challenges in the process,” Ebrahim said.

“We are fortunate that in this journey, we have our dear partners from the security sector to help us out in maintaining order. Troops whom we once faced at the other side of the fence – now working with us, side by side, one in building a Bangsamoro that we can be proud of,” he added.

Vinluan and the JTF Sulu commanders paid courtesy visit to Ebrahim and other BARMM officials on Monday, May 3, at the Bangsamoro Government Center in Cotabato City.

The visit was particularly aimed at providing the BARMM government an update regarding the security situation and development challenges in the province of Sulu, a stronghold of local terrorist ASG.

 

Over P20-M worth of illegal drugs seized in Sulu buy-bust ops

Robie de Guzman   •   March 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Some P20.4 million worth of suspected shabu were confiscated in a buy-bust operation conducted in Jolo town of Sulu province, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Monday.

Citing a report from the Police Regional Office Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (PRO-BAR), PNP officer-in-charge PLt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the illegal drugs were seized in an operation conducted on Sunday at Barangay Walled City.

Police said the buy-bust operation was jointly launched by intel operatives from Jolo MPS, Indanan MPS, 11th and 35th Mobile Intelligence Battalion, in cooperation with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in the Bangsamoro region.

Operatives also arrested a drug suspect, identified as Ejek Ali Abduhalim, 44, during the operation.

“Seized from the suspect were one paper bag with more or less three kilograms of suspected shabu with a street value of P20.4 million and two mobile phones,” Eleazar said.

The suspect is now facing criminal charges violating Sections 5 and 11 of the Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

“The PNP is working double-time to stop the proliferation of illegal drugs in every region across the country, as we continue to intensify our anti-illegal drugs operations,”  Eleazar said.

AFP traces Abu Sayyaf hideout in Sulu, 4 members surrender

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has traced one of the hideouts of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Sulu.

AFP Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) said their 2nd Special Forces Battalion found one of ASG’s hideouts on Sunday (February 7) in Barangay Danag, Patikul while conducting combat operation.

Meanwhile, four more ASG members surrendered and turned over firearms to the 6th Special Forces Battalion in Sulu on Sunday. They are apart from the 17 ASG members that surrendered in January.

In 2020, almost 100 terrorist members surrendered to the authorities.

The AFP continues to conduct hot pursuit operations against around 70 ASG members operating under ASG leader Radullan Sahiron in Sulu. AAC (with reports from Val Villaflor)

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