Tuesday Sep, 17 2019 02:27:37 PM

Duterte wants Abus in Sulu eliminated this year

Mindanao Armed Conflict • 11:00 AM Tue Jul 2, 2019
John M. Unson
Major Gen. Diosdado Carreon and Malaysian Major Gen. Dato Yacob Bin Samiran of the International Monitoring Team. (John Unson)

MAGUINDANAO --- Malacañang wants the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu crushed before December 31 this year, the new commander of the Western Mindanao Command said Monday.

“That is what President Duterte wants,” Major Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said during Monday’s assumption here of Major Gen. Diosdado Carreon as new commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.

Carreon replaced Sobejana who took over last Friday the leadership of the WestMinCom from the retiring Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega.

Carreon and Sobejana both graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in 1987.

Sobejana served as top military commander in Sulu before he got to the helm of 6th ID last year.

He said there is a possibility that Friday’s deadly bombing by the Abu Sayyaf of the command post of the 1st Army Brigade in Indanan, Sulu was deliberately jibed with his assumption as WestMinCom commander.

Eight people, three of them soldiers, were killed in the blast that also injured 22 others.

The two bomb couriers who perpetrated the attack were also killed in the blast that ripped through the Army base.

“We are not sure yet if it was indeed a suicide bombing, or if the two bombers were killed in the explosion accidentally,” Sobejana said.

Sobejana said investigators under Brig. Gen. Marni Marcos, director of the Regional Police Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and military intelligence units in Sulu are jointly investigating on the incident.

“I believe it was perpetrated to create the impression that they are still a force to reckon with. In terror attacks you don’t need many fighting men,” Sobejana said.

He said President Duterte is keen on neutralizing the Abu Sayaf in Sulu, touted as the most dangerous province in the country, within the year.

The Abu Sayyaf, which has a reputation for beheading captives if ransom demands are not met, is using the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as banner.

The symbolic transfer of 6th ID’s command from Sobejana to Carreon was presided over by the chief of the Philippine Army, Lt. Gen. Macairog Alberto.

Sobejana is popular in central Mindanao for leading an extensive campaign against the Abu Sayyaf’s ally in the region, the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

More than 50 BIFF bandits, also operating in the fashion of ISIS, were killed in offensives by units of 6th ID from late 2018 to May this year.

Sobejana said Carreon will continue 6th ID’s efforts to neutralize the BIFF, which has three factions led by radical clerics --- Abu Turaife and Imams Karialan and Bongos --- all eloquent in espousing animosity to non-Muslims.

Carreon said he will also focus on peace-building programs that could complement Malacañang’s peace overture with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

MILF chairman Hadji Ahod Ebrahim, now chief minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Maguindanao Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu and the new governor of the province, Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu, graced Monday’s turnover rite at Camp Siongco, the command center of 6th ID.


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