By Francis Wakefield
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that they will create another military division to send to Sulu to once and for all rid the province of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
In an interview, Lorenzana said they will recruit more people to fill up the division and fulfill the mission of eradicating Sulu of the terrorist group.
“We are going to create another division. We will have permanent presence in Sulu and eliminate once and for all the Abu Sayyaf,” Lorenzana said.
“We are going to recruit more people for that division,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Tuesday the imminent troop movement after expressing dismay with the violent clash between government forces and the Abu Sayyaf bandits in Patikul, Sulu several days ago.
The encounter, which left five soldiers dead and several others wounded, was considered a “flashpoint” by the President.
“We visited a wake at Cauayan. I was with (Defense) Secretary (Delfin) Lorenzana and (Interior and Local Government) Secretary (Eduardo) Año. I talked to them and complained about why so many of my soldiers in Jolo are dying,” he said during a visit to a military camp in Bohol.
“By December 1, I told Secretary Lorenzana, ‘I want one division there’ so I will provide you with a Glock and three magazines,” he told the government troops.
The planned troop movement to Sulu comes amid the President’s decision to deploy more soldiers and cops to some parts of the country where incidents of lawless violence were reported.
Duterte earlier issued Memorandum Order No. 32 directing additional troops to the provinces of Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and the Bicol region to prevent the spread of violence.
The government forces have also been reminded to respect the constitutional rights of persons in performing their duty.
“No civil or political rights are suspended during the existence of a state of national emergency on account of lawless violence,” the order read.
Lorenzana, in the same interview, said it’s necessary to send additional forces in Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental and Bicol to prevent Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) from further committing terrorist attacks in those provinces.
He also admitted that the enemy still is a force to be reckoned with in those areas, thus the need for troop deployment.
Earlier, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced that two battalions of soldiers were already deployed to Samar to fulfill its mission of stopping the attacks by the CNTs.
“The NPA keeps doing things like burning, killing people so this is a preemptive thing para masugpo sila (to stop them. We can pursue our build, build, build program,” Lorenzana said.
“Remember they burned the equipment of the contractors in the… so they are still there..And as per the information of the mayor of Legazpi there are still NPA collecting money, extorting money from businessmen,” he added.
Lorenzana said the movement of troops will only be temporary to help troops on the ground.