From the Daily Tribune (Nov 1): AFP exec: No Halloween break for military offensive vs Abus
Military troops operating in Sulu will not have their Halloween break as Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin ordered them to sustain the pressure against the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group.
Col. Allan Arrojado, military commander in Sulu, said that Gazmin gave the marching order for government security forces to continuously pursue the terrorists.
“Continues (operation), that’s the marching orders to us by the secretary of national defense, to keep up the lawless elements running. So that they cannot flank out, they cannot rest,” Arrojado said.
The military launched its all-out law enforcement operation against the Abu sayyaf last Oct. 17, hours before the Abu Sayyaf group released German hostages Stefan Viktor Okonek, 71, and Herike Diesen, 55.
However, since launching the offensive, the military has not engaged the Abu Sayyaf and managed only to recover three abandoned encampments used by the terrorists in holding their captives.
Arrojado said that the troops have no problem with the order to keep up with the operation.
“It’s really understandable. Because of our current situation, they have to endure…we really need to do our job here in Sulu,” Arrojado said.
“We should be prepared for possibilities,” he added.
According to Arrojado, the operating troops are still in the mountainous areas of Sulu tracking down the Abu Sayyaf.
Arrojado said that alert status remains normal in Sulu.
“Our troops are still in the mountains…we are just monitoring now, we have our intelligence units…the monitoring is good,” Arrojado said.
The Abu Sayyaf group still holds at least nine hostages, including the two European birdwatchers kidnapped in February 2012 in Tawi Tawi and a Japanese.
Today, the chance of the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress seems gaining ground. Thanks to the great efforts of both the Senate and House leaders! Of course, there are still hard blocks ahead, which require vigilance and continuing assertion. Complacency is never an option even if the journey is smooth, because no one knows what lies ahead. Remember that the flipside of smooth is rough. The spoilers will always look for the opportunity to spew their venom. They are not yet downed; they are still struggling in many ways, sometimes, bizarre.
In case, the Bangsamoro government is established after the BBL’s passage in Congress and ratified by the people in a plebiscite and upheld by the Supreme Court as constitutional, what awaits those in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)?
Frankly, this is a very sensitive and highly emotional issue to handle, because those working in ARMM are like us, they have families to look after, many of them are our relatives, and they are also serving the people, some exceptionally well.
However, we have to understand that there are times odd or strange situation happens to people. This is the nature of life. It is either you are there or you are here. No one can control his or her destiny. We can plan and plan, but the outcome can only be partly predicted or anticipated or never at all. Accidents happen in a flash even for those who are cautious.
The Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the proposed BBL all speak for the abolition of the ARMM. But it is not a single stroke act; it happens in phases with due regard to needs of the new Bangsamoro entity. Moreover, the rights, privileges, and benefits of the employees are guaranteed in the BBL. Furthermore, the MILF sincerely believes that there is always space for everyone who is willing to serve the people and government wholeheartedly --- and is competent. The truth is that theory and practice are not the same thing. The first is idea and the second is implementation. It is in the operational part that creativity or flexibility has a greater billing.
But there is always measure for everything. The MILF has already told its leaders and members that not too many can work or be accommodated even in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) where the MILF will lead. The greatest good is over and above individual consideration.