CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City – “The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is on the right track and is confident it can meet the timetable of six months within which the Commander-in-Chief President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) defeated,” declares Marine Colonel Edgard Arevalo, Chief of AFP Public Affairs.
The AFP Chief-of-Staff General Eduardo Año during his visit on 06 April 2017 to the operating units rallied the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen of Joint Task Force Sulu. He urged the troops to double time and speed up its campaign to strategically eliminate the ASG within the specified time frame of up to 30 June 2017.
“The AFP is midway in its campaign against the Abu Sayyaf, General Año inspired them to operate at full speed, double or increase the operational tempo some more. The AFP has proven its capacity to inflict heavy casualties against the terrorist group.” Colonel Arevalo said.
“They (the ASG) are no match to us,” says General Año.
“We have actually perfected the art of combined and joint operations. We saw the interplay among Major Services, and the interplay of each ground troops to deliver in different lines of operation, the maneuvers, the fire support and the combat leadership,” General Año further declares.
On Thursday, General Año along with senior Generals of the AFP visited the Officers and men in Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista in Sulu. He awarded new Glock pistols to the officers who led the successful operations against the ASG that led to the recovery of a .50 Caliber Heavy Machine Gun, an 60mm Mortar, thousand of ammunition, 4 machine gun, mortar rounds, 40mm rounds, assorted M-16, M-14, Carbines, Garand rifles, FALN, and other war materiel.
The said array of arms and ammunition were neatly placed and laid in an array before the AFP Chief of Staff totaling 77 high-powered firearms—The biggest haul of recoveries so far in the period of less than two months.
In the traditional Talk to Men, General Año lauded the troops of the JTF-Sulu for their sacrifices and hard work in implementing his six-month campaign against the terrorist group.
In the past three months, “The AFP leadership we did not hear a single complain; everyone did his and her best in the job. We are very proud of all the soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines who continue to perform their tasks in line with our thrust against the Abu Sayyaf and other local terrorist groups,” General Año said.
“Akin pong binibigyang pugay ang ating mga kawal na sugatan at nagbuwis ng buhay, lalo na ang mga kasamahan natin who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
“Alam ko na sa inyong kagustuhan na tuparin ang inyong mga tungkulin, kayo ay lalagay sa mga pagsubok, subalit 'wag kayong malulungkot.
“Ipinapakita lamang nito ang inyong taglay na tatak ng isang tunay na kawal ng Pilipino. Na habang nasusugatan, ay lalong tumatapang at sumisidhi ang mithiing magawa ang sinumpaang tungkulin.
“Bilang inyong Chief of Staff AFP, alinsabay sa pagdiriwang natin ng Araw ng Kagitingan, ako’y nagpupugay.
“Ako’y lubos na nalulugod na makita ang buong suportang ibinigay ninyo upang gawin ang ating parte sa pagpapanatili ng kapayapaan sa ating bansa.”
“I congratulate everyone, especially with these firearms recovered, that are laid in front of us, in just less than 2 months.”
Best of the Best
During his visit in Sulu, General Año presided over the donning of ranks to newly promoted Commanders and Officers in JTF-Sulu.
Among the promoted Generals were battle-hardened Commander of AFP Western Mindanao Command, Major General, now Lieutenant General, Carlito Galvez, Jr. Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1985; JTF-Sulu Commander and Medal of Valor Awardee, Colonel, now Brigadier General, Cirilito Sobejana, PMA Class 1987; and Commander of the 501st Infantry Brigade, Colonel, now Brigadier General Jose Faustino, Jr. the first Army member of PMA Class of 1988 to make it to star rank.
“We made sure that we selected the best Officers, best Commanders, and Enlisted Personnel to be assigned here. All of our units in the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines contributed in bringing our best men and women here in Sulu,” General Año said.
General Año along with Philippine Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda, Lt. Gen. Galvez, and BGen Sobejana then joined President Duterte in awarding the Wounded Personnel Medal to 28 soldiers confined at Camp Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital.
The soldiers belonging to the 41st Infantry Battalion of the JTF-Sulu were wounded during a 3-hour firefight with Abu Sayyaf terrorists on Sunday, April 2 in Talipao.
Midway through AFP’s campaign against terrorism, General Año is confident that the six-month period culminates in a success.
Since January 2017, the AFP was able to neutralize 67 Abu Sayyaf members; 47 of which were killed in fierce firefight. General Año said this does not include reports of ASG members who died of their wounds or were killed based on intelligence reports.
Likewise, the AFP rescued 12 kidnap victims since the start of the year. These include the five Malaysians and two Filipinos recovered by operating troops of JTF-Sulu in March.
“We are confident that we shall be able to complete the first phase of our six-month campaign with positive results.
‘We shall continue with our momentum and finish our mission to defeat and incapacitate the terrorist Abu Sayyaf to finally pave the way for further development and progress here in Mindanao,” General Año concluded.