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The Aquino government is unable to promise to totally wipe out the Abu Sayyaf Group before the end of its term.
Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said security forces would continue to relentlessly pursue the Abu Sayyaf elements but it would be unfair to impose a deadline.
“We are determined to pursue this effort but it will not be reasonable to give a forecast or specific target dates because it is not that simple,” Coloma said in Filipino when asked by reporters if the ASG problem could be resolved before President Aquino steps down from office.
“Let’s just say that up to its final minute, this administration will do everything necessary, will do its best to ensure the safety and welfare of Filipinos against forces sowing terror in the country,” he added.
At present, Coloma said joint military and law enforcement operations have been launched to recover the hostages taken by the Abu Sayyaf Group in the south. He said these operations are “sensitive” so details cannot be disclosed to the public yet.
“But our countrymen can be assured that these criminal elements will face the full force of the Republic,” Coloma said.
Aquino earlier authorized intensified pursuit operations against the Abu Sayyaf following the beheading of a Canadian hostage John Ridsdel.
Aquino said he would devote his energy “towards ensuring that, at the very least, this will be a very seriously degraded problem that I will pass on to my successor.”
Apart from targeting to kidnap boxing champ Manny Pacquiao and television host Kris Aquino, the President also revealed there have been threats against his own life from the Abu Sayyaf Group.
“I credit our security services for putting these threats to bed with both professionalism and discretion,” Aquino said.