Pres Duterte lauds military for thwarting Abu Sayyaf kidnap plot

President Rodrigo Duterte has hailed the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) – Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu for successfully thwarting a kidnapping attempt by seven Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits in Parang, Sulu on November 3.

In a taped speech aired Tuesday, Duterte hailed them for their “gallantry”, “vigilance”, and “commitment” in defeating the ASG bandits and ensuring the safety of the nation.

“Today, we honor the brave men and women of the Western Mindanao Command Joint Task Force Sulu, with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, for a highly successful conduct of operation ‘Perfect Storm 2’ in Parang, Sulu on November 3,” he said.

Duterte said that despite unfavorable conditions, government troops “bravely” undertook air and sea interdiction operations that led to their victory.

“Your dedication to sworn duty strongly affirms this administration’s unwavering commitment to safeguard our people and maintain peace and security in the country,” he said.

He assured them that the administration would continue to pursue efforts to enhance capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) against threats through modernization and capacity building initiatives.

“Be assured in this administration’s unwavering support to the AFP and the police also, through programs that will further improve your capacity to respond to the security needs of the country, he added.

Duterte said their acts of service have earned them the respect of the nation.

“To the valiant troops we are honoring today, please accept my love for you and your family and you have just earned the respect of a grateful nation,” he said.

He also reminded them of their sworn duty to protect the nation against all forms of threats.

“So, I talk to you in behalf of a grateful nation. We need to beef up our security kaya magpakatatag kayo (be strong), do not worry. Your job is to secure the nation, make it peaceful. Salamat (Thank you),” he added.

On November 3, WestMinCom commander, Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., said the predawn firefight near Sulare Island in Parang town ensued after the Army’s Special Forces aboard a helicopter gunship and a multi-purpose attack craft (MPAC) intercepted a twin-engine speed boat with seven ASG bandits aboard.

“Our troops conducted air and sea interdiction targeting members of the ASG/kidnap-for-ransom group under (ASG leaders) Mundi Sawadjaan and Radullan Sahiron. Exchanges of fires transpired, which lasted for 25 minutes and resulted in the sinking of the boat utilized by more or less seven ASG members,” Vinluan said.

Vinluan said the ASG bandits “were planning to conduct kidnapping activities in mainland Mindanao”.

Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu, said two of the seven slain ASG bandits were identified as Madsmar Sawadjaan and Mannul Sawadjaan.

He said Madsmar was the brother of ASG leader and infamous bomber Mundi Sawadjaan, while Mannul was designated to replace the slain ASG senior leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, as emir of the bandit group. The other five slain ASG bandits are yet to be identified. (PNA)

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