by: COL EDGARD A AREVALO PN(M)(GSC)
CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City-- The unrelenting law enforcement operations by the combined forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) aided by critical information harnessed from their active collaboration with local government executives and civilian residents of the communities has paid off.
“Four (4) of the six (6) or seven (7) remnants of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) once led by Muamar Askali @Abu Rami who attempted to establish foothold in Inabanga, Bohol suffered the same fate as their cohorts,” reports Marine Colonel Edgard Arevalo, Chief of AFP Public Affairs.
"The hunt continues for the remaining two or three terrorists who were part of the band that attempted to establish foothold in Bohol but failed. We have reports indicating that they were also wounded and running out of supplies,” Arevalo added.
The AFP Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año issued a warning to terrorists, "The AFP has sent a very strong message: do not attempt to propagate your nefarious activities.
"You will suffer the same fatal consequences as these terrorists for attempting to bring in terror and havoc to this tranquil Province of Bohol-- or in other places in the country for that matter."
In a series of encounters yesterday, Saturday, 22April2017 in Barangay Bacani, Clarin town in Bohol, said four (4) terrorists were neutralized-- one after the other in a running gun battle.
At 12: 50PM, Joselito Milloria, a former villager of Inabanga who became a Muslim convert (also known as Abu Alih) and later guided the terrorists to his former hometown was first to succumb to the determined security forces tracking him on the ground under the leadership of Brig Gen Arnulfo Matanguihan, Commander of the Army 302nd Brigade and Police Chief Superintendent Noli Taliño, Police Regional Director.
Milloria traded shots, was killed in the process, and yielded a Galil rifle with M203 Grenade Launcher attached and several rounds of ammunition.
The operations continue and another armed encounter erupted at 8PM. Three (3) more members of the ASG were neutralized. Two more high-powered firearms were seized--a M16 and a M14 with rounds of ammunition.
As at press time, only Milloria @Abu Alih has been identified. The identities of the latest fatalities were being established.
LTGen Oscar Lactao, Commander of the AFP's Central Command that has Bohol in his Area of Operation and who has been directing the conduct of joint operations commend the operating units and the civilians in the area.
"I give my commendations to the local government leaders, the local residents, and to every Soldier, Airmen, Sailors, Marines, and Policemen. Through their incessant hard work, patience, skillful coordination, and concerted efforts poured in to support this operation, we have attained this excellent result.
"We salute our patriotic citizens and the dedicated local government leaders who have been very vigilant and actively engaged in providing information and giving their full support and cooperation to the security forces to effectively thwart the evil designs of these terrorists," LTGen Lactao said in a statement.
The AFP Chief General Eduardo Año who has been on top of the operations since the ASG was reported to have left Sulu early April expressed his elation and kudos to the troops for this series of successful operations.
(He was with the Secretary of the Department of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana and the Commander-in-Chief President Rodrigo Duterte who visited Bohol recently.)
General Año addressed his men in the frontline, "I commend Brigadier General Arnulfo Matanguihan the Commander of 302nd Army Brigade and his counterparts at the PNP in Bohol. The entire AFP takes pride of your excellent conduct of the operations--from deliberate planning to skillful execution.
"Rest not in your laurels though even after we have neutralized the remaining two or three remnants of this terrorist group if they are still alive.
"We have communities and people to protect and secure.
"We will, by these testaments of your determination, valor, hard work, civil-military support and coordination with the citizens and local government leaders, continue to convince our fellow Filipinos especially in the grassroots that if we all work to get our acts together, we will achieve victories.
"That we can triumph not only against terrorists but also against terrorism, criminality, and other security challenges," concludes General Año.