There will be no let-up in the ongoing campaign against the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf militants described as “terrorists” in restive Mindanao during the holiday season, a senior military commander vowed on Tuesday.
Lieutenant General Rustico Guerrero, the head of the military’s Western Mindanao Command based in the port city of Zamboanga, explained the Abu Sayyaf was not covered by the government announcement declaring a unilateral month-long ceasefire from Dec.18 to Jan.19, 2015 for the Christmas season and New Year with the communist New People’s Army.
Guerrero (meaning “warrior” in Spanish) emphasised: “There is no ceasefire with the Abu Sayyaf. They are terrorists. Relentless operations will continue until they are all tired and all the remaining hostages are rescued.”
On orders of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, the military launched in late October a campaign known as “Oplan Ultimatum” against the militants particularly on the neighbouring island provinces of Basilan and Sulu where they continued to operate with impunity.
Guerrero reported that the extremists have been on the run since the start of the campaign, which also sharply reduced their capability to stage abductions and in launching terror attacks in Sulu and Basilan.
The military estimates that the extremists are still holding about 10 foreigners as hostages. Recently, a Swiss national, a wildlife photographer, escaped from the Abu Sayyaf by killing one of its sub-commanders in Sulu after being held captive for two years.