Malacañang unfazed by Abu Sayyaf’s 'regrouping’ reports

By Jelly Musico

September 27, 2018, 5:59 pm

MANILA -- The government will not be threatened by the kidnap-for-ransom Abu Sayyaf terrorists who are reportedly regrouping and planning to conduct cross-border kidnappings in Mindanao, Malacañang said Thursday.

Well, ang masasabi ko lang po diyan, handa po tayong harapin ang banta galing sa Abu Sayyaf (What I can say is that we are ready to face any threat coming from Abu Sayyaf),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said during a Palace press briefing.

According to an exclusive report of a Malaysian news outfit, the Abu Sayyaf sub-commanders are regrouping after nearly two years on the run due to the all-out war launched by President Rodrigo Duterte’s government against the bandits in 2016.

The report identified the “resurrected” sub-commander as Indang Susukan, who was widely reported to have died when his wife and children were killed at the height of the military’s attack in Jolo, Sulu in 2016.

Kinakailangan po silang mag-regroup dahil napulbos na natin sila. At asahan ninyo po na kahit ano pang gawin niyang recruitment, ang Abu Sayyaf po kayang-kayang pulbusin ng ating gobyerno (They need to regroup because we have already destroyed them. You can expect that no matter what kind of recruitment they will do, the government will crush the Abu Sayyaf),” Roque said.

Meanwhile, Roque welcomed a “favorable review” of the US State Department on the Philippines’ ongoing campaign against terrorism and violent extremism.

He said the State Department’s 2017 report on terrorism has mentioned the concrete steps the country has undertaken to combat terrorism and prevent violent extremism, such as continued interagency information sharing between Philippine law enforcement agencies, increased aviation security capacity, and active participation in training courses on crisis response, border security and investigations, including cybercrimes.

“The report also noted that the Philippine government has consistently acknowledged the dangers from ISIS-affiliated terrorist groups, and welcomed the assistance on counter-terrorism and reconstruction from Australia, Japan and the United States,” Roque said.

In 2017, Philippine military troops killed members of the ISIS-inspired Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf, including leaders Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon, during the five-month Marawi siege.

The war, however, left 168 government troops dead and reduced Marawi City into ruins. (PNA)