Monday, December 11, 2017

PNP: Financiers of communist rebels may be tagged as ‘conspirators’

From the Manila Times (Dec 11): PNP: Financiers of communist rebels may be tagged as ‘conspirators’

THE Philippine National Police (PNP) warned that financiers of communist groups may be tagged as conspirators, accomplices, or accessories to terrorism, a spokesman said on Monday.

Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos, however, was unsure if protest groups supporting the New People’s Army (NPA) and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) could be considered conspirators.

“I’d check with the [Directorate for Investigative and Detection Management] DIDM regarding that,” Carlos said in a phone interview with The Manila Times on Monday.

Carlos said the PNP favored more offensive attacks than defensive ones against the NPA, which President Rodrigo Duterte has tagged as a terrorist group.

“Offense is always better than defense. Emphasize alertness, especially during administrative transport of personnel and others,” Carlos said in an order statement to the police.

Carlos said the police was strengthening its internal forces by improving its intelligence-gathering procedures and operations. He said police intelligence capabilities were now being “intensified”.

“Conduct social investigation not only for intelligence networking but to establish rapport. All personnel should know the community they are in,” Carlos said in the order.

Carlos reminded police to be on guard for possible attacks of the NPA, which reportedly threatened to be more aggressive now that Duterte had labeled them as terrorists.

“Expect possible ambushes and attacks to be launched by the NPA. Preventive and prophylactic combat patrols in coordination with the AFP should be launched in addition to target hardening of all camps and vital installations,” Carlos said.

Carlos cited the PNP’s tactical capabilities, which encompassed a national, regional, and provincial scope, made possible by police forces that handled the NPA and the CPP.

Carlos ensured that police was addressing the threats of the communist rebels against “communities, industries, private businesses, and government installations”.

Carlos informed that the police were continuously reminded about the order now that the NPA and CPP were on the list of terrorist groups.

On December 5, Duterte declared the NPA and CPP as terrorist groups through Presidential Proclamation 374.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the proclamation was due to the “continued violent acts of the CPP-NPA, which sow and create a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace.”

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea directed Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to file a petition declaring CPP-NPA as a terrorist group.

Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman, said the military would fully execute and perform its mandate “without reservation and restrictions”.

Security forces hold 150 tribesmen in Zamboanga province

From the Mindanao Examiner (Dec 11): Security forces hold 150 tribesmen in Zamboanga province

Security forces held Monday nearly 150 tribal members on their way to a meeting in Sindangan town in the southern Philippine province of Zamboanga del Norte, organizers said.

Nenita Condez, Secretary-General of the indigenous organization called Salabukan Nok G’Taw Subanen or “Nagkaisang Mamamayang Subanen”, said they were worried about the safety and welfare of their members. She said policemen and soldiers intercepted the group while heading to the venue of their meeting in the town.

“We are worried about them. They were being held against their will,” Condez told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner by phone.

She said security forces were suspecting or accusing the natives as either members or supporters of communist rebel group New People’s Army. She strongly denied the suspicion of the police and military, but claimed soldiers were allegedly harassing tribal members.

“We are organizing the meeting to seek support from President Rodrigo Duterte or the provincial and municipal governments to help us by providing aid to our poor members who are mostly farmers affected by recent calamities in the province. We are need of seeds and other agricultural assistance from the government,” Condez said.

She said local government have failed to assist farmers despite repeated pleas. “We are also asking the government to provide our people the needed medical assistance or even a medical or humanitarian mission,” she said, adding, a medicine donation from Bishop Antonio Ablon, of the Diocese of Pagadian City, was also confiscated by army soldiers in Sindangan town.

Condez said the medicines, mostly for cough and flu, and vitamins, were intended for children and elderly members of the Subanen tribe. She said their group, which was originally founded in the 1990s, is working for the welfare of the tribal communities in Zamboanga Peninsula.

Ricky Gandoy, one of the members of the group in Sindangan, has appealed to the government to investigate the continued harassment of tribesmen by soldiers.We are just ordinary and poor farmers, and yet the soldiers are always harassing us, accusing us of being rebels or sympathizers of the NPA which is not true. We need help,” he said in a separate interview.

There was no immediate statement from the police and military about the allegations of the Subanen leaders.

Groups launch series of protests in Koronadal vs ‘lumad attacks’

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 11): Groups launch series of protests in Koronadal vs ‘lumad attacks’

Hundreds of militant activists gathered in this city for a series of protest actions against the alleged harassment activities and attacks by government forces on lumad or indigenous peoples communities in the province and the neighboring areas.

Around 200 members of various “cause-oriented” groups initially pitched camp late Sunday infront of the South Cotabato provincial capitol compound here as part of a planned three-day mobilization.

Organizers said the protesters are composed of lumads, farmers, teachers, students and other concerned residents.

Timothy Romero, spokesperson for the Center for Lumad Advocacy, Networking and Services Inc. (Clans)-Socksargen, said Monday the protests are mainly aimed at bringing the plight of the lumads to the attention of local government leaders and concerned agencies.

He said lumad communities, including schools, in the area are currently under attack from government troops after repeatedly being “falsely accused” as fronts for the New People’s Army (NPA).

The latest case, he noted, was the alleged massacre last Dec. 3 of eight members of the T’boli tribe in Sitio Datal Bonglangon, Barangay Ned in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.

Among those killed was local tribal leader Datu Victor Danyan, two of his sons and a son-in-law.

The Army’s 27th and 33rd Infantry Battalions said the incident was a legitimate encounter and that the slain lumads were members of the NPA’s Daguma Front 73.

Romero urged South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes to seek an impartial investigation of the Dec. 3 incident.

“We’re also calling on the governor to look into the attacks by government troops targeting legitimate lumad schools,” he said.

He appealed to the governor to face them for a dialogue regarding these issues as well as some pressing concerns affecting the lumads in the area.

Romero specifically cited the planned coal mining project in Barangay Ned, Lake Sebu and the large-scale copper-gold mining venture in Tampakan town.

Aside from the provincial capitol, he said they will stage mobilizations in the next two days at the offices of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Education (DepEd) in Region 12.

He noted that they want the NCIP to “wake up” as it reportedly remained silent about the Dec. 3 incident in Lake Sebu.

On the other hand, Romero said the DENR has kept approving mining permits in the area and these supposedly triggered the militarization of lumad communities.

Teachers and students of lumad schools will seek a meeting with DepEd Region 12 director Arturo Bayocot to address issues affecting them, he said.

Romero said they will reiterate the results of an earlier dialogue with DepEd officials that assured them of protection from attacks by government forces.

Gov. Daisy Fuentes told reporters that she is ready to face the leaders of the protesters and discuss their concerns.

She said the local government respects the rights of the protesters to air their grievances in a peaceful manner.

“It’s their right to launch protest actions. We will not oppose that as long as they will not resort to violence and obstruct the services at the provincial capitol and our roads,” she said.

2 more rebels yield to Army in Sultan Kudarat

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 11): 2 more rebels yield to Army in Sultan Kudarat

Two more communist fighters have surrendered to the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion here Sunday, raising the number of communist rebels to have voluntarily yielded to the government in the 33rd IB area of jurisdiction to 80, an Army official said.

Lt. Colonel Harold Cabunoc, 33rd Infantry “Makabayan” Battalion commander, said the two New People’s Army (NPA) fighters who belonged to the Dulangan-Manobo tribe operating in Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat, turned over two rifles in simple ceremonies held at the Makabayan headquarters here.

He identified them as Ruben Balagay alias Ka Rustom, 19, and Marlon Dayao alias Ka MarMar, 20, both members of the NPA Platoon MyPhone led by Ka Ampog.

Cabunoc said Ka Marmar was with a certain Datu Victor when they engaged elements of the 27th Infantry Battalion in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato last week.

Datu Victor and five of his followers died in the clash. The 33rd IB chief said the two surrenderees debunked allegations of the left that the soldiers massacred the tribal members.

“These are living witnesses of the clash and it was not a massacre but a legitimate encounter,” Cabunoc said.

A total of 80 former NPA rebels so far yielded to the 33rd IB and have availed of the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP).

In exchange for their rifles, the former combatants have received P20,000 each as start-up livelihood funds.

“We continue to encourage our tribal brother to avail of the government’s reconciliation program and live normal lives,” Cabunoc said.

Lawmen pursue BIFF for harassing police, Marine posts in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 11): Lawmen pursue BIFF for harassing police, Marine posts in Maguindanao

The Philippine Marines and Police Public Safety Company are pursuing a band of armed lawless elements believed to be behind the harassment of a police outpost in Poblacion Nuro, Upi, Maguindanao, and the staging of a roadside bombing against Marine soldiers in an adjacent village of the same town.

Members of the Marine Battalion anding Team-5 had a brief encounter with the lawless elements on Saturday who are believed to be members of the outlawed IS-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

The suspects were believed to have crossed the hinterlands of Talayan and Guindulungan towns, also in Maguindanao, and launched the diversionary attacks.

Philippine military and enemies-turned-ally Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have been fighting the BIFF in Maguindanao’s second district; and that the harassment in North Upi town on Saturday was seen by the Army as a BIFF “diversionary tactic” to ward off intense military operations against them in Talayan and Guindulungan towns.

Capt. Arvin John Encinas, speaking for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division which has jurisdiction over the Marine forces in North Upi, said the encounter occurred in Barangay Mirab after the suspects set off an improvised roadside bomb that injured seven Marine troopers.

The Marine team was on their way back to MBLT-5 battalion headquarters after the conduct of investigation on the harassment against the 1st Manuever Platoon, Police Public Safety Company when a homemade bomb went off near the bridge.

Encinas said the encounter resulted to undetermined number of casualties on the enemy side while seven Marine personnel suffered injuries.

The Marines held their ground against the undetermined number of armed men until reinforcement arrived.

In the harassment of the 1st Maneuver Platoon PPSC detachment, investigation revealed that a rifle grenade was fired from a distance and hit the outpost that injured PO2 Esmael Alabat.

“A thorough investigation is underway to determine the link between the police outpost and roadside bombing on the Marines,” Major Gen. Arnel dela Vega, 6ID chief and commander of Task Force Central, said.

“As always, the soldiers of Task Force Central are putting their lives and limbs at risk to ensure the safety and security of the people and the community,” he added.

North Upi Mayor Ramon Piang today convened the Municipal Peace and Order Council to discuss the incident and appealed to the public to remain vigilant.

ML extension to thwart ISIS, NPA threats in Mindanao: Duterte

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 11): ML extension to thwart ISIS, NPA threats in Mindanao: Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte has asked Congress to further extend the declaration of martial law in the whole of Mindanao for another year, or for the entirety of 2018, in order to totally eradicate terror threats posed by remnants of Islamic State (IS)-linked terrorists and by communist rebels in the region.

In his letter to Congress dated December 8, Duterte said extending the martial law for another year will help state security forces to crush the rebellion in Mindanao and ensure public safety.

“A further extension of the implementation of Martial Law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao will help the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and all other law enforcement agencies to quell completely and put an end to the ongoing rebellion in Mindanao and prevent the same from escalating to other parts of the country,” Duterte said in his letter.

“Public safety indubitably requires such further extension, not only for the sake of security and public order, but more importantly to enable the government and the people of Mindanao to pursue the bigger task of rehabilitation and the promotion of a stable socio-economic growth and development,” he added.

In his letter, Duterte highlighted the different terror threats facing Mindanao, which were part of the security assessment submitted to Malacañang by the AFP and the PNP.

The President noted that despite the deaths of almost a thousand IS-inspired extremists, including their leaders, in the battle of Marawi, remnants of the group and their supporters have continued their recruitment and training of new members “to carry on the rebellion.”

“You will please note that at least 185 persons listed in the martial law arrest orders have remained at large and, in all probability, are presently regrouping and consolidating their forces,” he said.

He specifically pointed to the remnants of the IS-inspired Da’awatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masriq (DIWM) as being active in recruiting and consolidating their forces in Central Mindanao.

“These activities are geared towards the conduct of intensified atrocities and armed public uprisings in support of their objective of establishing the foundation of a global Islamic caliphate and of a Wilayat not only in the Philippines but also in the whole of Southeast Asia,” Duterte said.

The President also cited the terror threat from the Turaifie Group, which has been monitored to be planning to conduct bombings in the Cotabato area.

In the meantime, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), has been continuously perpetrating violence in Maguindanao and North Cotabato, having initiated a total of 89 violent incidents since the start of this year.

He also cited threats posed by remnants of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga Peninsula.

According to reports, the ASG was behind 43 acts of terrorism this year, which included bombings, kidnappings and beheadings.

Lastly, Duterte accused the NPA of taking advantage of the Marawi siege to intensify their decades-long rebellion against the government and “stepped up terrorist acts against innocent civilians and private entities, as well as guerilla warfare against the security sector and public and government infrastructure.”

He said the NPA’s objective was to “purposely seize political power through violent means and supplant the country’s democratic form of government with Communist rule.”

The President said the NPA has perpetrated at least 385 atrocities in Mindanao since the year started that resulted in the deaths of 41 state forces and the wounding of 62 others.

He said these atrocities also resulted in the deaths of 23 civilians, including a four-month old infant, and the wounding of six others.

In the meantime, at least 59 arson incidents against private business and establishment have been carried out by the NPA in Mindanao this year that resulted in the destruction of an estimated PHP2.2 billion worth of properties.

The President said that he was constrained to terminate peace talks with the National Democratic front-Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (NDF-CPP-NPA), and later on to tag the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization, as a direct result of the atrocities on the part of the NPA.

“These recent developments involving the NDF-CPP-NPA forebode another year of intensified armed hostilities which, together with other security concerns and described above, continue to make Mindanao the hotbed of rebellion,” he said.

“For all these reasons, I ask the Congress of the Philippines to further extend the proclamation of Martial Law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao for a period of one year, from 01 January 2018 to 31 December 2018, or for such period of time as the Congress may determine, in accordance with Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution,” Duterte said in his letter.

President Duterte first declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, 2017 when fighting broke out between government forces and IS-linked terrorists erupted in Marawi City.

In July, Congress extended the declaration until December 31, upon Duterte's request.

Pay hike for cops, soldiers gets final House nod

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 11): Pay hike for cops, soldiers gets final House nod

The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading a joint resolution aimed at raising the salaries of police and soldiers by next year.

Voting 167-4, members of the lower chamber passed Joint Resolution No. 18 authorizing the compensation adjustment for military and uniformed personnel (MUP).

The measure specifically raises the monthly Base Pay of a Police Officer (PO) I in the Philippine National Police (PNP) or a Private in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and equivalent ranks in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine Public Safety College, Philippine Coast Guard, and the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority from PHP14,834 to PHP29,668, representing a 100 percent increase in the Base Pay effective January 1, 2018.

For the other ranks, the increase in Base Pay will be calibrated resulting in an average increase of 58.70 percent for all ranks.

Based on estimates by the Department of Budget and Management, the increase in the base pay of soldiers, police, firefighters and jail guards will entail an additional cost of PHP63.4 billion.

The resolution employs two tranches of implementation of the modified base pay starting 2018 and 2019.

The indexation of the pension of retired MUP with base pay of those in the active service shall be suspended with respect to the base pay increase authorized in the joint resolution.

Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, appropriations committee chair, said the suspension indexation will last up to Jan. 1, 2019, "or until a new pension reform law is passed, whichever comes earlier."

"This temporary suspension, for a period of about one year, of the application of pension indexation of retired military and uniformed personnel, is only in view of its huge financial implication," Nograles explained.

The resolution also states that the hazard pay of all military and uniformed personnel shall be fixed at PHP540 per month.

The increase in base pay for 2018 shall be sourced from the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund and other available funds while the funding requirements for the succeeding years shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.

Nograles said the proposed modified base pay will benefit around 381,381 military and uniformed personnel nationwide.

BIFF owns up to Maguindanao twin explosions

From the Manila Times (Dec 10): BIFF owns up to Maguindanao twin explosions

The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has claimed responsibility for the twin explosions that wounded seven soldiers of the Philippine Marines and a policeman in Upi town of Maguindanao.

Abu Misry Mama, spokesman for the outlawed Islamic State-inspired BIFF, said their armed group was behind the attack on government combatants; he did not elaborate.

Senior Supt. Agustin Tello, Maguindanao police provincial director, identified the wounded policeman as Police Officer 2 Esmael Alabat, a member of Upi municipal police office.

Tello said Alabat was seriously wounded when a rifle grenade fired from M-203 rifle landed at the roadside near the outpost of the1st Maneuver Platoon of the Provincial Public Safety Company in Barangay Nuro, Upi at about 12:15 a.m. on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Capt. Arvin John Encinas told The Manila Times the Marines were with the police and bomb experts in the post-blast investigation and were heading back to base when unidentified suspects detonated another improvised bomb in Barangay Mirab at about 1 a.m. also of Saturday.

Wounded in the second explosion were Major Romulo Ducay, Corporals Ryan Cabual, Arnel Jiun, Oliver Albo, Alvin Sangadan and Privates 1st Class Johnny Panday and Gerwin Perez, all members of the 5th Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT-5). They are now confined at the Army’s Camp Siongco Hospital in Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

Mayor Ramon Piang of Upi town issued this appeal to the public: “Let us work with Task Force Upi and the local government. Be agents of peace and be vigilant in our surroundings.”

NDF/Sison: Statement against Proclamation 360 & 374 of the US-directed Duterte facist regime

Propaganda statement by Jose Maria Sison posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Dec 10):  Statement against Proclamation 360 & 374 of the US-directed Duterte facist regime 

 By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines
Chief Political Consultant, National Democratic Front of the Philippines
December 10, 2017

Photo by Tudla Productions
It is fine that GRP President Rodrigo R. Duterte is on record as having terminated the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations by issuing Proclamation 360 for the purpose. He and the officials of his regime and armed forces have boasted that they are hell-bent on unleashing a single-minded war of suppression to destroy the revolutionary forces of the Filipino people.

The Filipino people and their revolutionary forces are therefore fully justified to defend themselves and defeat the current Duterte regime of the US-dominated big comprador-landlord state and pursue the people´s democratic revolution. The terrorist regime of Duterte is merely a passing phase in the ever worsening chronic crisis of the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system.

Duterte, the No. 1 terrorist of the Philippines, has also issued Proclamation 374 labeling the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People´s Army (NPA) as terrorist organizations. His purpose is to apply the Human Security Act of 2007 (RA 9373) and the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 (RA 10168) .

The vile purpose of the Duterte regime is to proscribe the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations and wage a campaign to slander them, arbitrarily list down suspected officers and members for general intimidation, abduction, torture and mass murder as in Oplan Tokhang and further list individuals who are suspected of financing and aiding the CPP and NPA , who are themselves deemed as terrorists and who are thus made vulnerable to the violations of human rights and extortions by the terrorist regime.

Within the Philippines and abroad, the Duterte regime is already notorious for the use of state terrorism and for human rights violations against suspected users and pushers of illegal drugs in impoverished communities, the toiling masses of workers and peasants, the Cordillera, Lumad and Bangsamoro national minorities and the brutal occupation of communities and destruction of the entire Marawi City by bombing.

The US-directed Duterte regime perpetrates gross and systematic acts of terrorism and human rights violations. It has no moral, political and legal basis for proscribing and further unleashing
fascist violence against the revolutionary forces, the democratic organizations and the broad masses of the people who have the sovereign to resist and overthrow a regime that is oppressive and tyrannical.

The Filipino people and revolutionary forces encompassed by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and by the People´s Democratic Government (PDG) have the inherent status of co-belligerency in their long running civil war with the US-propped big comprador-landlord state currently represented by Duterte. The CPP is the leading party of the new democratic revolution and the PDG. The NPA is the main armed force of the PDG.

The revolutionary political character of the CPP and NPA is solemnly manifested in the Program for a People’s Democratic Revolution of December 26, 1968, the Guide for Building Organs of Political Power of April 1971, the Guide for Establishing the People’s Democratic Government of October 1972, the Guidelines and Program of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) I of 1973 and 1977, the Declaration of Undertaking to Apply the Geneva Conventions of 1948, approved by the NDFP of July 5, 1996 and the GRP-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL)..

The PDG has a constitution founded on the sovereign will of the Filipino people and on the basic alliance of the working class and peasantry. It aims to complete the people’s struggle for national liberation and democracy under the class leadership of the working class and its revolutionary party. From its modest beginnings in 1969, the PDG has grown and spread nationwide mainly in the form of local organs of political power to more than 110 guerrilla fronts covering large parts of 17 regions and 71 provinces of the Philippines.

The PDG has a comprehensive administrative structure from the village to higher levels: municipal or city, district, provincial and regional. At the basic level of the village, the local organs of political power develop from the stage of the appointive barrio organizing committees to the elective barrio revolutionary committees through various ways of consolidation, which involve the building of the revolutionary forces.

The revolutionary forces include the local branch of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the revolutionary mass organizations of various exploited classes and sectors, the people’s militia and self-defense units of mass organizations and the formation of the five basic subcommittees for public education, mass mobilization, economy, defense and health, subject to the formation of further subcommittees in order to better serve the people.

The US-directed Duterte regime is daydreaming that it can discredit and destroy the sovereign revolutionary will of the Filipino people by proscribing the revolutionary forces as terrorist organizations, requiring them to submit themselves to the sham processes of the reactionary state and unleashing gross and systematic crimes of terrorism and human rights of violations. The Filipino people and the revolutionary forces are determined to fight for national and social liberation, people´s democracy, economic development, cultural progress and just peace.

The Duterte fascist regime has terminated the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. But it cannot be too sure that it will last long because the Filipino people and even those in the GRP detest the monstrous crimes of the regime, especially mass murder, corruption and puppetry to the US. The crisis of the ruling system continues to worsen and the resources of the regime for violence and deception are limited. Thus, it is wise for the NDFP to remain open to peace negotiations with the GRP because the people and the broad united front of patriotic and progressive forces can get rid of the Duterte regime as it got rid of the Marcos and Estrada regimes.

Westmincom: 354 Abu Sayyaf 'neutralized' since January

From the Philippine Star (Dec 11): Westmincom: 354 Abu Sayyaf 'neutralized' since January

Former members of the Abu Sayyaf group surrender to the military in January. Pareňo, file

Anti-terror task forces under the Western Mindanao have neutralized — by death, arrest or surrender — 354 members of the Abu Sayyaf this year, five times more than in 2016.
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Westmincom chief, said that from that number, at least 127 Abu Sayyaf militants were killed and 90 were apprehended. Att least 136 have surrendered to government forces — 72 in Basilan, 43 in Sulu and 21 in Tawi-Tawi.
"This is almost five times higher than the number of neutralized Abu Sayyaf members in 2016, when only 75 members were neutralized," Galvez said in a press briefing.
Westmincom's figures account for 40 percent of bandits neutralized this year, he said.
The campaign against the Abu Sayyaf slowed down in May after the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf attacked and held parts of Marawi City until October 23.
Galvez said intensified operations in the Westmincom's area of responsibility decreased kidnappings by the Abu Sayyaf to 12 incidents against 23 in 2016. Government forces have yet to recover at least 11 kidnap victims — seven foreigners and four Filipinos — still held in the mountains of Sulu.
The number of violent incidents — kidnapping, harassment, bombings and killings — in 2017 was also lower at 77 against 123 in 2016. 
Westmincom also recovered 230 firearms from the Abu Sayyaf group.
Galvez said credit for the achievements should go to Joint Task Force Sulu under Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Joint Task Force Basilan led by Brig. Gen. Juvymax Uy and Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi led by Brig. Gen. Custodio Parcon.