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Friday, January 22, 2016

Mindanao military forces reshuffled to beef up offensive against BIFF, Abu Sayyaf

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Military special operating units have been reshuffled to defeat militant groups such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Abu Sayyaf group, according to ranking military commander.

Lt. Gen. Mayoralgo dela Cruz, commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said they have set May 2016 as a time frame for eliminating threats groups based in Central Mindanao, including Basilan and Sulu areas.

He said some special operating units have been dissolved and integrated to others to maximize its strength in the operations.

Dela Cruz said among the special units that was dissolved include Task Force Zampelan (Zamboanga peninsula and Lanao) that was created to track down and neutralize Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) militants.

He said they have retained and intensified the strength of the Joint Task Force Central to run after the BIFF while the Joint Task Force Zambasulta was assigned to pursue the Abu Sayyaf group.

“The two special units were retained to accomplish the mandate given by our Commander-in-chief President Benigno Aquino III to defeat the BIFF and Abu Sayyaf groups,” Dela Cruz said.

He said that if they fail to meet the May 2016 target, they would review their operational plans to determine where they fall short and maximize best practices for next year’s operations.

Dela Cruz said they have no exact figures yet of the BIFF while strength of the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan and Sulu had been reduced.

Based on reports, factions of the Abu Sayyaf group are recruiting new members following the series of operations which neutralized a big number of its followers.

Dela Cruz said they would be able to rescue the remaining kidnap victims once they have defeated the Abu Sayyaf group.

“That’s one thing we are doing we can safely rescue the kidnap victims who are still in the hands of this group. Of course, if we defeat them perhaps it follows we rescue the kidnap victims,” he added.

By Roel PareƱo (

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