Soldier killed, 9 others hurt in clash with Abu Sayyaf group in Sulu

Robie de Guzman   •   June 23, 2020   •   1797

MANILA, Philippines – A soldier was killed while several others were injured in a “fierce firefight” between military troops and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members in Patikul, Sulu on Monday, June 22, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command (AFP Westmincom) said.

In a statement, the AFP said that around noon on Monday, soldiers of 32nd Infantry Battalion encountered an undetermined number of members of the terror group in Sitio Tubig Bukayon in Barangay Pansul.

The firefight killed one military officer and wounded nine others while the number of casualties among the ASG members is still undetermined.

“It is with deep sadness to report that one valiant military officer paid the ultimate sacrifice and nine personnel were wounded while fearlessly fighting the enemies and protecting the people of Sulu,” Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, WestMinCom Commander said.

Sobejana added that the family of the fallen soldier will be notified and provided with “all forms of assistance.”

The AFP said its Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu is currently going after the ASG members.

“Our troops are still pursuing the withdrawing enemies who left several blood stains on their tracks,” Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, JTF Commander, said in the same statement.

The military vowed to continue its intensified offensive operations against the local terrorist group.

“The skirmishers between our forces and the ASG persist. As we actively support the civil government in preventing the spread of COVID-19, we also ensure that the people in the community are safe and secured from the terrorism,” Sobejana said.

Suspected Abu Sayyaf member nabbed in Quezon City

Robie de Guzman   •   September 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Wednesday said it has arrested an Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) member in an operation conducted in Culiat, Quezon City last week.

NBI officer-in-charge, director Eric Distor identified the suspect as Albazir Abdulla alias Abu Saif.

The operatives of the NBI-Counter Terrorism Division (CTD) arrested Abdulla, who is facing kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges for his alleged involvement in the 2001 Golden Harvest Plantation kidnapping case.

The operation was launched after NBI sources reported sightings of Abdulla in Metro Manila. A victim-witness also identified him in a CTD photo line-up as one of the abductors and a member of the ASG.

A series of casing and surveillance operations was conducted by the NBI-CTD in coordination with counterparts from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), to gather more information, which revealed the actual residence of Abdulla.

The arrested suspect was brought to NBI Detention Facility.

Distor said Abdulla is the second ASG member they arrested in Metro Manila this year. In May, operatives nabbed alleged ASG member Wahab Jamal alis Ustadz Halipa at Maharlika Village in Taguig.

The NBI said that the ASG group headed by their late leader Isnilon Hapilon and other senior ASG leaders raided the Golden Harvest Plantation in Brgy. Tairan, Lantawan, Basilan Province.

The terrorists seized the supplies from sari-sari stores and houses; livestock, firearms and ammunition from the plantation security. They also burned a chapel and detained 14 plantation workers, two of whom were beheaded by the terrorist group.

After four months of captivity, the victims were able to escape on separate occasions during the rescue operations by the government security forces.

After the incident, the ASG stayed in the mountains and some of its members assimilated back to society as “sleepers” or “spies,” the NBI said.

Six Abu Sayyaf members yield in Sulu

Marje Pelayo   •   August 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Joint Task Force Sulu reported the surrender of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits on Tuesday (August 24).

The surrenderers were identified as:

  1. Abral Samsidari (under ASG leader Radulan Sahiron)
  2. Marjin Basal (under ASG leader Radulan Sahiron)
  3. Alnajer Kaisal (under sub-leader Alhabsi Misaya)
  4. Basir Lahan (under sub-leader Apoh Mike)
  5. Munil Jumarain (under Almujer Yadah)
  6. Padih Hamsari (under Almujer Yadah)

The group also yielded one bushmaster rifle, two M1 garand rifles and one hand grenade fragmentation.

“Nararamdaman na talaga ng mga kababayan natin na gumaganda na kalidad ng buhay sa probinsya. Nakakatuwa na mayroon na naman tayong mga kapatid na naliwanagan at napiling magbalik loob sa ating gobyerno. Ngayong araw, isa-isa namin silang kinausap para talagang malaman paano ba sila napunta sa ganoong klaseng sitwasyon,” said newly installed 1102ND Brigade Commander Col. Giovanni Franza.

(Our countrymen are beginning to feel the improvement in the quality of life in the province. It feels good to know that some [ASG members] have finally seen reason and decided to return to the government fold. Today we had a chance to speak with them individually to find out how they ended up in the situation they were in.)

The surrender was facilitated by the 35th Infantry Battalion led by Lt.Col. Wilfredo Borgonia.

According to Joint Task Force – Sulu and 11ID Commander MGen William Gonzales, a total of 19 ASG members came forward and formally surrendered to the government forces for this month of August.

The official commended the cooperation of local government units for their part in the campaign for peace in Sulu.

“I am very grateful that the local chief executives are stepping up. We are all hand in hand in preparing these people to reintegrate to mainstream society,” MGen Gonzales said in a statement.

9 NPA members in Misamis Oriental surrender to the Philippine Army

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 23, 2021

A former NPA member leads the military to a stash or firearms.

Nine members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Misamis Oriental have surrendered to the Philippine Army.

The former rebels were members of the sub-regional committee of the NPA in North Central Mindanao Regional Command. They also surrendered 14 high-caliber firearms.

One of the rebel returnees, identified as alias Marga, said that lack of food pushed them to surrender to the government. She said there were times when 40 members had to share one can of sardines. They were also forbidden to visit their families.

Magpapaalam ka nang maayos, hindi ka papayagan. Kaya iyong iba naming kasama kadalasan talaga umuuwi nang hindi nagpapaalam dahil sa ganyang kalagayan, hindi ka papayagan. Wala kang kalayaan o demokrasya, (You will not be allowed to go home even if you asked properly. Because of it, some would just leave without permission. There is no freedom or democracy),” she said.

According to Lt.Col. Ricky Canatoy, commanding officer of the 58th Infantry Battalion, the combined efforts of the Philippine Army and the government contributed to the increasing number of returning rebels.

“Military action alone will not be enough to achieve or maintain long-term peace; engagement from line agencies, notably from local government units, is essential. Because of the close linkages among government agencies, hostile manpower and firearms have been steadily reduced,” he said.

The rebel surrenderers will receive financial and livelihood assistance under the Enhance Comprehensive Local Integration Program of the government.

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