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34 alleged ASG men nabbed, 1 killed in Sulu drug Raid


At least 34 alleged Abu Sayyaf bandits involved in illegal drugs were arrested while another one was killed on Wednesday in a joint law enforcement operation in Sulu province, the military said.

In a statement, Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom), said the suspects were arrested at around 4.00 a.m. in Barangay Danag, Patikul town.

She added a follower of an Abu Sayyaf sub-leader was killed and a soldier wounded in the operation. High-powered weapons including hand grenades and drug paraphernalia were also recovered by troops.

"This development can somehow prove that the Abu Sayyaf bandits [have] involved themselves in the drug trade to sustain the conduct of their terror attacks," Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., WestMinCom chief, said.

The apprehended persons and seized items were subsequently brought to the Sulu Provincial Police Office for investigation and documentation.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte was reported to have offered a P1 million Philippine ($20,000) bounty for every Abu Sayyaf member captured "dead or alive".

He also called on people in Bohol, the central region where he was speaking, to take up arms against Abu Sayyaf, offering "protection" to anyone who killed a criminal or terrorist.

"My order is: to the police and the all, and even civilians interested to fight and kill, my order is dead or alive,” Duterte told reporters on Bohol after a security briefing. "I have a one million (peso) offer, per person.”

According to Duterte, the tipsters need not disclose their names or any other personal information and that civilians in Bohol can take up arms against Abu Sayyaf militants.

The President also said he is willing to pardon any civilian who will kill the bandits.

“I intend to also arm the civilians and I will include the civilians, if you already killed, you don’t have to worry. Just go to the police and make a report and state your truth... You don't have problem, ’ll take care of you. I’ll pardon you. Whatever,” he added.

The recent clashes between joint government forces and Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Inabanga town left at least 9 people, including a self-proclaimed spokesman, Abu Rami, who was responsible for the beheading of several foreigners. Four government security forces were also killed.

Meanwhile, Galvez assured that the Armed Forces will continue to conduct combat operations against the terrorist group and work with the local government and other law enforcement agencies in the fight against the proliferation of illegal drugs in the country.

Last April 14, Abu Sayyaf member Samla Halil, a follower of sub-leader Alden Bagade, was nabbed by elements of the Marine Special Operation Group (MARSOG) and the 52nd Special Action Force in Barangay Tulay, Jolo, Sulu at 2:45am that day.

Recovered from his possession were an M203 .40mm HEDP ammunition, two M16 magazines, and three Caliber .45 magazines.

Elements of the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion and the Civilian Active Auxiliary (CAA) of the 1st Special Forces Company recovered a 7.62mm single shot rifle, a shotgun, BDA uniform, assorted ammunition, and an ICOM radio belonging to the Abu Sayyaf in Barangay Abong Abong, Maluso, Basilan at 10:30am of April 15.

On that same day, troops of the 68th Infantry Battalion, under the Joint Task Force Basilan also seized an Abu Sayyaf camp with 38 bunkers and three (3) guard posts in Barangay Cabcaban, Sumisip, Basilan at 3:45 in the afternoon.

Last Tursday at 9:45 a.m., troops of the 15th Special Forces Company were also able to find an arms cache along the mangrove area of Langas Island, Maloso, Basilan Province. Wrapped in a sack were one M16 Rifle with one magazine and one M1 Garand with one clip and a bandolier.

As per verification with civilians, Petinglay said they were able to see earlier two persons bringing along with them the "sack".

One of the two person's arm was wrapped with a bandage. It is believed that the persons were among the wounded followers of ASG sub-leader Furuji Indama, who was wounded after the armed engagement between the government forces and the group in Brgy Cabcaban, Sumisip, Basilan last April 11.

"We will continue to gain grounds in the previous lairs and bailiwicks of the Abu Sayyaf. We will be more aggressively implementing both our lethal and non-lethal operations against them especially that we now have evidence that the bandits are also engage in the illegal drug trade," Galvez said. -- Hader Glang

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