By Francis Wakefield
The military’s Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu Tuesday said that the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) has splintered into small groups to avoid government forces and now fearing civilians who might report their locations and identities.
JTF Sulu Commander Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo made the revelation after initial result of the custodial debriefing of Abu Sayyaf members who recently surrendered confirmed the information to them.
It was further revealed by the surrenderors that most in their ranks were demoralized caused by the all-out military offensives.
“Accordingly, some of their comrades especially the young ones have shown signs of surrendering because of the continuous military pressure but fears repercussion from other ASG members,” Pabayo said.
“The abdication of these members from the group shows their retraction from the misleading ideology of the Daulah Islamiyah and Al Queda-inspired ASG,” he added.
Pabayo stressed that the full force of the JTF Sulu will relentlessly hunt down all ASG members in accordance to the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to exterminate the ASG.
“Hence, it would be better for them to surrender to clear themselves if they are not involved in any unscrupulous acts such as the Jolo Cathedral Bombing, etc… than to succumb as fleeing criminals of the society,” Pabayo said.
He further emphasized that the ASG is now feeling the pressure of the community who are already fed up of their un-Islamic terroristic actions.
“This menace in Sulu will sooner be eradicated with the active support of the peace-loving Tausug community,” he said.
JTF Sulu earlier said that the Abu Sayyaf lost four of its members since February 23, with three surrendering while another getting killed during combat operations.
Accordingly, Akriyal Dassan Halik alias Sibih, an ASG sub-group leader based in Talipao, Sulu surrendered to Lt. Col. Ricky Parcon, the commanding officer of the 21st Infantry Battalion on February 23, 2019.
A day after, additional two ASG members surrendered in Brgy. Danag, Patikul, Sulu to Colonel Antonio Nafarrete, 1101st Infantry Brigade commander. All the surrenderees turned over their firearms including M16 rifle and two M1 Garand rifles.
Before midnight of February 24, the 62nd Marine Special Operations Group, of the Philippine Marine Ready Force Sulu (PMRFS) encountered about 15 ASG terrorists under sub-group leader Salip Murah in Simisa Island, Banguigui, Tongkil, Sulu.
Tipped off by civilians, the said armed encounter resulted in the death of one ASG and the recovery of an R4 rifle.