From the Manila Times (Dec 31): 144 Abu Sayyaf members surrendered, 128 killed in 2017 – military
THE Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) reported on Sunday that 144 members of the Abu Sayyaf Group have surrendered to the government since January, its spokesman said.
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., WestMinCom commander, said of the 144 Abu Sayyaf surrenderees, 70 were from Basilan, 53 in Sulu and 21 in Tawi-tawi.
Galvez said that the number represented 41 percent of the bandits who were neutralized in 2016, adding that “strenuous combat operations” resulted in a total of 53 encounters throughout the year.
Of the number, 20 were in Basilan, 29 in Sulu, three in Tawi-tawi and one in Zamboanga.
A total of 128 members of the Abu Sayyaf were killed while 80 were arrested in the Western Mindanao area, Galvez also said.
He added that a total of 223 firearms from the Abu Sayyaf bandits were either recovered, seized or surrendered before the Joint Task Forces under the WestMinCom.
As for the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the Western Mindanao, Galvez said the military was able to neutralize at least 243 of the group members in Central Mindanao.
He cited a report coming from Maj. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, commander of the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Division or the Joint Task Force Central.
According to Galvez, a total of 182 members of the BIFF were killed during armed confrontations in the area, 24 were apprehended and three have surrendered before the government since January.
A total of 38 firearms were recovered from the BIFF bandits with a total of 44 armed confrontations registered for the WestMinCom.
“Significantly, the joint security operation and strategic alliance with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front contributed to our success in our operations,” Galvez said.
However, Galvez also reported that 26 soldiers were killed in action while fighting the Abu Sayyaf while a total of seven in military operations against the BIFF bandits in Western Mindanao.
“Ultimately, our efforts will continue to sustain our development support operations in Mindanao, through our interagency and stakeholders’ engagements and our commitment in supporting the law enforcement operations of different agencies,” Galvez said.