AFP chief condemns deadly Jolo blasts

Published August 26, 2020, 3:52 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), denounced Wednesday the twin suicide bombings in Jolo, Sulu which claimed the lives of eight soldiers, six civilians, a policeman, while wounding more than 80 others. Two suicide bombers also died in the attack.

Military personnel stretcher away some of the victims after an improvised bomb exploded next to a military vehicle in the town of Jolo on Sulu island on August 24, 2020.

In a statement, Gapay vowed the military will deliver justice to the casualties as operations are ongoing to hunt down a faction of Abu Sayyaf Group under the command of Mundi Sawadjaan, who is believed to be the brains behind Monday’s terror attack.

“No sensible religion or ideology would ever endorse these hapless attacks. We extend our sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims. Rest assured that their sacrifices will not be in vain,” Gapay said.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commanding general of the Philippine Army, said burial assistance, command financial assistance and special financial assistance will be given to the families of the slain soldiers.

Additionally, they will also be entitled to receive capital, health, educational, and shelter assistance among others, he said.

The remains of Staff Sergeants Louie Cuarteros and Manuelito Oria, of the 21st Infantry Battalion (21IB); Privates John Rey Paller, James Apolinario, Juvienjay Emiani, Omair Muksan and Aiub Sahid of 21IB; and Private John Agustin of the 35th Infantry Battalion (35IB) were already sent to their respective provinces for funeral honors.

“The Philippine Army grieves over the death of these men. We honor their sacrifice in serving our country and protecting the people of Jolo, Sulu,” Sobejana said.

Meanwhile, Gapay said the troops on the ground continue to be on high alert to prevent similar attacks from happening.

“The Abu Sayyaf Group will not deter us from nor shake our resolve to bring an end to their violence,” he said.

The AFP Chief also urged the public to remain calm but vigilant in the wake of the attacksHe encouraged everyone to “do their share in keeping their communities safe by cooperating with government authorities.”