In the past 12 months, the government has been successful in its fight against various local threat groups, including the New People’s Army (NPA) and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Monday.
General Gilbert Gapay, AFP Chief of Staff, said in a Laging Handa press briefing that around 7,000 NPA rebels were “neutralized” while 491 firearms used by various communist groups were seized in military operations conducted from January to December 4.
The military said “neutralize” means that either the target is arrested or killed in a legitimate operation.
Meanwhile, 187 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) terrorists, 339 Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and 61 members of the Maute terror group were also neutralized in the same period.
“I’m proud to report that the Armed Forces of the Philippines is winning the war against them,” Gapay said.
The military chief said that there will be no let-up in the conduct of operations against the enemies of the state even if the latter’s forces are already weakening.
“Patuloy naman, relentless ang ating operations against sa iba’t ibang internal threat groups (Our operations against different internal threat groups are on-going and still relentless),” Gapay noted.
During the AFP’s anniversary in December 2019, President Duterte had directed the military to “crush by all means possible” the NPA and ASG which he considers as the top security threats in the country.
The Commander-in-Chief made the same order in January 2019 after Abu Sayyaf terrorists bombed Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu where 23 people died and 102 others were injured.
Gapay, who is set to retire in February 2021, has vowed that the AFP will eradicate the menace of the threat groups before the end of Duterte’s term in 2022.