By Francis Wakefield
The encounter in Patikul, Sulu, on Saturday between the troops of the Army’s 5th Scout Ranger Battalion and the Abu Sayyaf under Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan was a breakthrough in the military’s effort to pursue and neutralize the group.
Philippine Army (PA) Spokesman Lt. Col. Louie D. Villanueva made the remark as troops continue to scout Sulu to hunt those responsible for the bombing in Jolo last Sunday that claimed 22 lives.
Troops from the 5th Scout Ranger Battalion under Lt. Col Marlo S. Jomalesa, were sent to the hinterlands of Patikul when they engage about 100 Abu Sayyaf fighters.
Three Abu Sayyaf were killed and at least 13 others including the notorious sub-leader alias Idang Susukan were wounded.
The fighting also left five soldiers killed and 18 others wounded.
Villanueva said the situation remains volatile but despite the casualties it incurred, the Army’s 11th Infantry Division is determined to continue its effort in crushing the terrorist group.
He added that the Philippine Army vowed to fully commit its resources to the offensive against the Abu Sayyaf.
He also praised the valiant effort of the soldiers, for their selfless service and heroism in the name of peace. He said that their sacrifices will not be in vain as they continue to extinguish the flames of terrorism to ensure the safety and protection of the people and bring the desired normalcy in Sulu.
“We would like to remind everyone that terrorism is real and remains a clear and present danger. Hence, we urge everybody to help and join in our effort to address this phenomenal threat,” Villanueva said.
“Moreover, the Philippine Army being at the forefront of combatting terrorism is appealing to everyone to remain calm yet vigilant as we pursue our collective effort in bringing peace and stability for our country,” he said.