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The immediate neutralization of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandit group is one of the first marching orders given by President Rodrigo Duterte, according to Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
“We will neutralize the ASG so that they can no longer do the things they are doing (referring to the kidnapping of Indonesian coal barge and tugboat sailors) as these attacks are now affecting us economically,” he said in Filipino, Wednesday.
Duterte’s order came as the bandit group’s kidnapping attacks has started to affect the Philippine-Indonesia coal trade.
Earlier, Indonesia banned all of its vessels, especially those transporting coal, from entering Philippine waters after seven of its sailors were kidnapped while in the Sulu Sea last June 22.
Lorenzana said the ban is now affecting the country’s power supply as coal is needed to operate Philippine power plants.
He added that they are now planning steps to operationalize the President’s order. (PNA)