By Francis Wakefield
The commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Joint Task Force (AFP-JTF) Sulu Thursday said that they will continue with their focused military operations as part of efforts to safely rescue the Abu Sayyaf Group’s remaining hostages.
Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana made the remark during an interview a day after a police report indicated that the two policewomen abducted in Sulu last month had been released by their captors.
The two were identified as PO2 Benierose Alvarez and PO1 Dinah Gumahad, who were abducted April 29, 2018, by heavily armed men along with two male companions identified as Jackosalem Blas and Faizal Ahidji in Patikul, Sulu.
Sobejana said during a recent command conference presided by no less than AFP Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez Jr.,
he personally instructed them to give premium to the rescue of the remaining kidnap victims and the neutralization of the Abu Sayyaf.
He also asked military commanders to be active partners in the development of Sulu.
Sobejana said General Galvez also instructed them to finish off the Abu Sayyaf the soonest possible time to once and for all stop their atrocities in the province.
“Actually the target date is December if we will fast track our operation but the realization considering all factors, he said it can be done in two years,” Sobejana said.
“But our aim is December. That’s the specific instruction of our Chief of Staff as he will retire this December,” he added.
Sobejana said they are doing everything they can and using all available war material and resources both ground, air and sea to defeat the enemy.
He said based on their estimate there are at least 300 Abu Sayyaf members still in Sulu.
To ensure the success of their operations an additional ranger battalion was sent to Sulu from Marawi City to gain their objective in defeating the enemy.
“Very soon we will launch massive focus military operations to rescue the remaining victims and bring down the strength of the ASG into an insignificant level,” Sobejana said.
He said there are a total of 11 battalions of soldiers in Sulu including special units task to go after the Abu Sayyaf which are still holding close to a dozen hostages.