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1,250 PNP-SAF to battle ASG

PNP SAF sealOne-thousand two-hundred fifty commandos in five battalions – 250 members each battalion – of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force may see action in Mindanao as part of the efforts to wipe out the extremist Abu Sayyaf Group.

Police Gen. Oscar Albayalde, PNP chief, said the training of the five battalions of police commandos which President Duterte ordered formed last year is almost complete and would graduate as soon as they pass the test mission.

Test mission is an actual battle with government armed enemies like the communist rebels and other large threat groups. It is one of the major requirements before a SAF commando is accepted as a full-time member of the elite, most equipped, and well trained strike force of the PNP.

Albayalde said they will be sent to augment troops in Mindanao. “That is their purpose, to augment our troops in Mindanao,” said Albayalde.

Over the weekend, Duterte ordered the police and the military to wipe out the ASG after the extremist group was tagged in the suicide bombing attack inside a military camp in Sulu that killed three soldiers and three civilians and injured 22 others.

Albayalde said there are three SAF battalions deployed in Mindanao and one of them is deployed in Basilan and Sulu.
He added that Duterte has not yet ordered the deployment of additional SAF in the area but assured they will help in other ways.

“But we will help in terms of intelligence-gathering and strenghtening the information-sharing with the military and foreign counterparts,” said Albayalde. “And of course, we have joint operations, active military operations by the military in coordination with our SAF,” he added.

The ASG has been a security headache for the government over the years due to its involvement in high-profile kidnapping-for-ransom, attacks on civilians, and bomb attacks. There have been attempts to wipe the ASG in the past but to no avail. (Aaron Recuenco)

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