By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star)
Photo: The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) admitted the fighting in Marawi had upset its timetable in the campaign against terrorism. AP/Aaron Favila, File
MANILA, Philippines - The fighting in Marawi City derailed the goal of the military to defeat the Abu Sayyaf and other terror groups by June 30.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) admitted the fighting in Marawi had upset its timetable in the campaign against terrorism.
However, the AFP said the battle will be won and significant accomplishments during the last six months showed it is on the right track in the fight against terror groups.
“We have neutralized 519 terrorists (including 178 Abu Sayyaf and 317 Maute) since Jan. 1 until June 30, 2017,” AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año said.
Año said the AFP also recovered a total of 548 firearms, which reflects a significant reduction of the enemy’s strength and capabilities, and prevented or minimized piracy and kidnappings.
“The desperation of Maute-ASG to claim recognition as an ISIS state prompted them to stage the rebellion and occupy Marawi City. These acts have derailed our objective to defeat them based on our timeline,” Año said.
Año though emphasized that while the Marawi siege is catastrophic, painstaking and destructive, the AFP will prevail in the end.
He said the military would not be pressured nor bound by timelines or deadlines, adding President Duterte has given orders to finish off the Maute group and clear Marawi of terrorists to pave the way for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the war-torn city.
“We will do this with highest dignity and code of conduct of the professional soldier; and respect to human rights for our country, for the people and for our soldier heroes who ultimately gave their lives for this cause,” Año assured. – With Ben Serrano