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Terrorist threats declining in BASULTA, Westmincom says

BANGSAMORO NEWS UPDATES • 20:00 PM Tue May 4, 2021
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BIO-BARMM
estern Mindanao Command (Westmincom) Chief Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan, Jr. (BIO-BARMM)

COTABATO CITY ­­­­­­­­- Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) Chief Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan, Jr. said terrorist threats in the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi have significantly declined in the last two years.

Vinluan said this during his courtesy visit to Bangsamoro Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim on Monday, May 3, at the Bangsamoro Government Center in this city.

His visit particularly aimed to provide the chief minister and other BARMM ministers an update regarding the security situation and development challenges in the province of Sulu, a stronghold of local terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

A presentation from the military’s Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu showed that from July 1, 2020 to May 2, 2021, the force had 38 encounters with ASG and has neutralized 260 of its members; 34 of which were killed, 42 apprehended, and 184 surrendered.

Furthermore, in the first quarter of 2021, JTF Sulu said ASG now only have 132 of its manpower compared to its 282 and 145 members in 2019 and 2020, respectively. ASG’s firearms also significantly decreased this year with only 147 left when it used to possess 330 weapons in 2019 and 155 in 2020.

There was also no recorded terrorist acts perpetrated by the local group this year. ASG was involved in 22 atrocities in 2019 and 5 in 2020. The last one was the two explosions in Brgy. Walled City in Jolo, Sulu on August 24 last year.

According to JTF Sulu, it is its mission to conduct military operation to defeat ASG, and support the government peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in order to “significantly contribute to the peace, security, and development efforts of the Government in Sulu province.”

“Military action is only a small factor in combatting terrorism, the major factor here is the assistance (from the Bangsamoro Government),” Vinluan said.

“We need your help to finally end the conflict in Sulu,” Vinluan told the BARMM officials.

For his part, Chief Minister Ebrahim said the interim Bangsamoro Government has been put to place to assure that the people gets its well-deserved peace and sustainable development after years of conflict and unrest.

“When we signed the peace agreement with the national government, we knew that this transition period would not be an easy track. We also acknowledge that there are still splinter groups and extremist organizations that would provide challenges in the process,” the chief minister said.

“We are fortunate that in this journey, we have our dear partners from the security sector to help us out in maintaining order. Troops whom we once faced at the other side of the fence – now working with us, side by side, one in building a Bangsamoro that we can be proud of,” he added.

Also present during Monday’s meeting were Ministers Naguib Sinarimbo of Local Government, Eduard Guerra of Public Works, Mohagher Iqbal of Education, Raissa Jajurie of Social Services, and Mohammad Yacob of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform.

Meanwhile Commander Vinluan was joined by JTF Sulu Commander Brigadier General William Gonzales, and four subordinate brigade commanders of the task force. (Bangsamoro Information Office)

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