The decision of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits to surrender en masse shows that the ongoing military focused operations in Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and Sulu are now eroding their will to fight.
This was stressed by AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año during an interview during the sidelights of the “Balikatan” closing ceremonies last May 19.
“We are seeing this trend right now. For the first time, (we are seeing) them surrendering en masse. It means that we have already broken their will to fight,” the military official said in Filipino.
Coupled with the positive developments which resulted in the neutralization of key ASG leaders and members in the past few weeks, this is a strategic victory, Año added.
“It means that what ever the ASG decides to do, they are beaten and with all the positive developments and succesful decisive encounters, a large part of their force was whittled away, (reducing) their capability to conduct terror or atrocities,” Año stressed.
AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo earlier said that from Jan. 1 up to May 17, a total of 81 ASG bandits were killed, with another 50 surrendering, 18 apprehended and 70 high and low powered weapons seized from the brigands.
Arevalo said the number of surrendered ASG terrorists is unheard of as this is the first time the terrorists have opted to surrender en masse.
The AFP public affairs office chief said that the surrendered bandits are also claiming that their finances are going low due to their inability to kidnap new victims and ransom them, crippling their ability to acquire weapons, food and other supplies.
This lack has caused the morale of the ASG members to plummet making them prone to surrenders. (Priam F. Nepomuceno/PNA)