October 20, 2017
The Armed Forces of the Philippines lauded on Friday President Rodrigo Duterte's decision not to lift yet martial law in Mindanao as the government troops continue to pursue at least four major terrorist groups in the region.
In the "Mindanao Hour" briefing, AFP spokesman Major General Restituto Padilla Jr. said the military is still going after the Abu Sayyaf Group, Ansarul Khilafa Philippines, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the remnants of the Maute group.
He said these groups "still have the capability to sow chaos because they still have forces."
But he said there were still other "small groups" about "18 to 21" which have pledged allegiance to Daesh ISIS.
Padilla said the AFP is supportive of the President's decision not to lift yet the state of martial law in Mindanao despite the neutralization of most of the leaders of the ISIS-linked Maute terror group in Marawi City.
"Even the President himself last night has mentioned that until such time that one terrorist remains, martial law will remain. And we’re very appreciative of the declaration of the President because we actually really need it. It enables our forces to act quickly address the security threats, particularly in Mindanao," he said.
He added security forces were still trying to account for Malaysian terrorist Amin Baku, alias Commander Baku, who was among those who stormed Marawi.
He said it was not sure if Baku was killed during the early part of the Marawi siege.
While the military operations in Marawi have been subsiding, Padilla assured some government troops would continue to be in the area.
The other soldiers would be deployed in other parts of Mindanao where the other terrorists were believed to be hiding, such as Jolo, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Cotabato and in some parts of Maguindanao.
Padilla said the AFP is working on the timeline that was provided to them, which is towards the end of the year, to fully address the terrorist problem in Mindanao.
He said there will be a meeting of the security cluster "to assess and to study if it (martial law) should be extended beyond the end of the year timeline." Celerina Monte/DMS
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