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AFP augments forces vs ASG

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said yesterday that additional troops will be deployed in Patikul, Sulu, as part of the continuing offensive against the Abu Sayyaf Group.

A total of 21 ASG fighters have already been killed since fighting broke out last Friday.

Marine Col. Edgard A. Arevalo, the chief of the AFP’s Public Affairs Office, said that government forces who are part of Joint Task Force Sulu continue to scour the area in efforts of neutralizing the bandit group.

In an effort to heed the call of President Rody Duterte to crush the bandits, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya said that the military will dedicate all resources and assets to gain that objective.

“Yes, continuing. Continuing iyung pursuit operation namin. Actually, yes kasama iyung personnel pero ayoko lang mag banggit ng exact number or ilang battalions,” Arevalo said. Magdadagdag tayo. May dumating na at may dumarating pa.”

Arevalo, however, could not say if the group earlier encountered by troops has the hostages with them.

The Abu Sayyaf though continues to hold 24 people as hostages, 16 of which are foreigners.

“Walang information eh. Walang nababanggit pa na may kasama iyung grupo na iyun,” he said.

The AFP said as more troops arrive and more war materials continue to pour in the Island Province of Sulu, it is expected that more terrorists will be neutralized by government security forces.

“Let us vigorously pursue these terrorist/bandit Abu Sayaff Group with no let up and destroy them,” Gen. Visaya said during a recent high-level operations briefing.

Present during the Operations Briefing by Commander, Joint Task Force Sulu Brig. Gen. Arnel de la Vega were key staff from the General Headquarters; from the Philippine Army led by its Commanding General Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año; Western Mindanao Command led by Lt. Gen. Mayoralgo de la Cruz; Naval Forces Western Mindanao under Rear Admiral Jorge Amba; Army’s 501st Brigade led by Col. Jose Faustino, Jr., Marine Provisional Brigade under Acting Commander Lt. Col. Rommel Recinto, and all Battalion Commanders, Ship Captains, and Air Force Commanders in the area of operations. (Francis T. Wakefield)