The Philippine military is hopeful for a brighter 2018 in its counter terrorism efforts after the massive surrender of members of the New People’s Army and the Abu Sayyaf Group.
Col. Edgard Arevalo, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Public Affairs chief said: “The AFP sees the year of 2018 to be a breakthrough year in countering terrorism. We are continuously receiving more surrenderees as we speak. These are indicators of growing discontent within their organization, success of our programs, and especially the cooperation of local residents and local governments in the areas where they are operating.”
After President Rodrigo Duterte expressed invitation and offer of protection and assistance last December 2017 when he spoked with more than 600 former rebels, the AFP have confirmed that 188 NPA members already surrendered to government forces in the first three weeks of January.
Arevalo added that on January 21 alone, 52 former rebels surrendered: seven NPA regulars and 35 members of Militia ng Bayan turned themselves and 13 firearms in to joint elements of the 2nd Infantry Battalion and the police in Masbate; and 10 communist rebels surrendered and yielded eight firearms in Sultan Kudarat.
Other surrenderees were facilitated in the provinces of Albay, Compostela Valley, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato, Agusan del Norte, Bukidnon, Davao Oriental, Sarangani, Kalinga, Surigao del Sur, and Davao City.
The AFP has also reported of of the total 168 Abu Sayyaf members from Zamboanga, Basilan, Kalinga, Surigao del Sur, and Davao City.
Joint Task Force Sulu commander Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana said that Marines were conducting civil-military operations in Barangay Likod, Pata Island, Sulu when a certain Khadafy reported that Abu Sayyaf member Ismula wanted to surrender.
A total number of 60 Abu Sayyaf members have surrendered in Sulu on July 01, 2017 according to Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command.
“This manifests the changing landscape in the province as our ground troops sustain their combat and intelligence operations against the terrorists,” Arevalo said.