Incoming Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya is ready to implement a 24/7 operation to hunt down and neutralize the Abu Sayyaf threat once he assumes office on July 1.
“As far as I am concerned, I will fight them 24/7,” Visaya told the Manila Bulletin in an interview at Camp Aguinaldo on Tuesday.
The outgoing Southern Luzon Command head assured that the military’s 11 battalions—approximately 5,500 troops—is more than enough to combat the notorious bandit group in Sulu.
“We have enough forces... Kung ima-match mo yung power nila with our power, malayo,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine News Agency noted that Visaya declined to give an exact timetable on when this proposed offensive will finally rid us of the terrorist faction.
Still, he emphasized that civilian support and cooperation are crucial to successfully address the threat, since the bandits usually blend in with civilian communities when outnumbered.
Visaya will discuss these plans with President-elect Rodrigo Duterte in a command conference after the turnover ceremony on Friday.
“We will be hearing the guidance of the President, so doon kami mag-i-start,” said the next military head.
The Abu Sayyaf, which is known for its kidnap-for-ransom activities, abducted seven Indonesian sailors in Sulu Sea last June 22, eight days after beheading Canadian hostage Robert Hall.
Photo from AFP's official Facebook account