Camp Bautista, Sulu, Oct 20, 2016- Abu Sayyaf members must surrender to preserve countless lives. This is the sentiment of soldiers in Sulu as the BaSulTa Sub-Regional Human Rights Commission (RHRC) and Intenational Monitoring Team (IMT) for the peace process visit Joint Task Force Sulu (JTFS) 4pm Wednesday and whole of Thursday respectively.
The ARMM BaSulTa Sub-RHRC led by Atty Edy Lyn Santiago conferred with JTFS officers on status of human rights awareness of troops and was assured of the compliance of soldiers on Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law and the Rule of Law. JTFS officials cited the case of suspected ASG Pauji Asgari who was arrested last Tuesday. Asgari was treated well, brought to the hospital for medical check-up and was immediately given food.
The IMT on the other hand was led by Malaysian Maj. Gen. Datuk Wir Zamrose who conferred with JTFS and LGU officials on the status of peace process in the province.
Soldiers in Sulu are calling on the ASG to surrender in light of successive encounters which resulted to the death of many ASG members including the neutralization of the notorious Muktadil brothers and the arrest of Asgari by Army troops in Talipao, Sulu on Tuesday.
Soldiers said the arrest of Asgari is essentially a surrender since he did not put a fight. Troops of 41st Infantry Battalion pursuing a group of armed men apprehended Asgari on information of local residents and recovered an M16 assault rifle, ammunition, electric cords, combat pack, cellphone, hammock, motorcycle and Marine Battle Dress Attire.
Soldiers speaking in vernacular said “Its good he did not resist. He and his mother are now glad he is alive. We dont want anyone being killed but if he tried to shoot at us, we will have no choice but to shoot back”.
Asgari’s mother showed up a day after his arrest and thanked soldiers for their kind treatment on his son. JTFS officials assured her and all relatives of ASG that surrenderees will be treated well.
It may be recalled that AFP Chief of Staff, Gen. Ricardo Visaya made a call for the ASG to surrender to preserve lives and for them to have a new life. A week after, 21 ASG from Basilan surrendered.
Brig. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, JTFS commander is echoing the same, “We are calling on the ASG to surrender and stop these kidnapings and all un-Islamic activities so that they may be given chance to live, atone for their crimes and be with their families”.
Reports from communities indicate that many ASG want to surrender but are being held and intimidated by their leaders saying they will be killed by soldiers if they surrender. However, authorities say that is far from truth and that is part of coercion and misinformation ASG leaders feed to their members.
Brig. Gen. Dela Vega said “The humane treatment of our soldiers to the arrested ASG is a proof of the commitment of our toops in respecting Human Rights and protecting the lives of others even those of criminals”.
“We are all losers in this war specially the victims and the people of Sulu. Our soldiers die, many more on the ASG are killed and those who suffer most are the victims and innocent people being displaced due to the atrocities of the ASG”, Brig. Gen. Dela Vega concluded.
Since July, a total of 36 ASG were killed in Sulu and scores were wounded while the AFP suffered 15 killed in action and 28 wounded in action.
The focused military operation launched by the AFP since July resulted to the rescue and recovery of 16 hostages while a total of 12 kidnap victims remain to be rescued.
Released by: Information Support Team, JTF Sulu
Camp Bautista, Sulu, Oct 4, 2016- Soldiers at the forefront of the relentless combat operations against the bandit group Abu Sayyaf (ASG) in Sulu are undergoing continuous combat stress debriefing to cope with psychological rigors of their job.
Three companies from different battalions have so far undergone the combat stress debriefing being conducted by a steady flow of medical teams coming from the AFP Medical Center.
This is the third week of debriefing with medical teams composed of health professionals from various specializations with majority from the Psychological Health Department. Priests from the Chaplain Service are also part of the teams.
Two teams from AFP medical center have so far completed the three-week process and are set to be replaced by another team from Manila.
The combat stress debriefing is a mechanism to ensure the psychological health, morale and welfare of troops involved in highly dangerous combat operations. Such type of stress was first observed on American troops during the Vietnam War by medical personnel and was found out to be a type of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
The debriefing aims to address possible cases of PTSD among troops, a sickness that is beyond superficial wounds common among soldiers, policemen and other law enforcers who have been to combat zones or some life threatening situations.
Brig. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, commander of JTF Sulu said, “Combat stress debriefing is part of the program of the AFP to take care of the health and welfare of troops involved in combat. The AFP provides a continuing healthcare program to our soldiers from the moment officers and troops get commissioned or enlisted until they retire from the service”.
Combat fatigue and battle stress debriefing are provided to our soldiers in view of their perilous mission. This is to address any possible problem or stress that may affect the performance; and medical and psychological health of soldiers assigned in combat zones.
Released by: Information Support Team, JTF Sulu
Camp Bautista, Sulu, Sep 30, 2016- Five soldiers wounded in different encounters against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) were given medals by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in a simple ceremony at Camp Bautista Station Hospital in Jolo 9am Friday.
Awarded with the Wounded Personnel Medal were 2Lt Joelimar Sulit, TSg Mario de Guzman Jr., Sgt Berhamin Jumdana, Pfc Deborah Paracuelles and Pvt Michael Andre Atega.
Brig. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, commander of JTF Sulu personally pinned the medals on the wounded troops who are recuperating at the Station Hospital.
“This is one way of recognizing the bravery and services of our troops in protecting the people of Sulu”, Brig. Gen. Dela Vega said.
Soldiers continue to scour suspected ASG lairs in Sulu to rescue the remaining kidnap victims. Thirteen hostages; six Indonesians, six Filipinos and one Norwegian have been rescued or released since the assumption of Pres Duterte and ordered an intensified focused military operations to destroy the ASG and rescue the remaining victims .
Five ASG including the notorious Muktadil brothers were killed in the latest operations this week in diferrent parts of Sulu.
Several ASG involved in the drug trade were also arrested in Zamboanga City and in Metro Manila by combined AFP-PNP forces.
Former hostages revealed that ASG members were usually high on drugs and were personally seen by them taking Shabu. Reports from line units indicate that drug money is being used by ASG to finance its daily operations in conducting criminal acts, terrorism and anti-Islamic activities.
POC:Col Rodrigo Gregorio / 09175595622 / Released by:Information Support Team, JTF Sulu
Camp Bautista, Sulu, Sep 21, 2016-Troops of 35th Infantry Battalion, 501st Infantry Brigade of Joint Task Force Sulu rescued 60 year-old kidnap victim Martina Lyn Yee from Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) 7am Wednesday in a pier in Tanjung, Brgy Kajatian, Indanan Sulu.
Martina Lyn Yee, a resident of Sirawai, Zamboanga Del Norte, owner of a gas station was kidnapped by six armed men 3pm Monday in Sirawai, Zamboanga del Norte. Reports indicated that the group fled heading towards Zamboanga City passing Municipality of Sibucu aboard triple engine watercraft.
The successful rescue operation was a result of continuous collaboration with different units of the AFP and PNP with the help of civilian populace from Sirawai to Sibuco and Zamboanga City to Sulu who informed and alerted troops on the presence of armed men.
A strike and rescue operation was initiated by troops of 35IB. Sensing that they would be outnumbered, the armed men holding Martina Yee hastily fled and resulted to the successful rescue of the victim.
Several victims have been rescued or released since the order of Pres Duterte to intensify rescue efforts.
Brig. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, Commander of JTF Sulu said “the successful rescue is a template of enhanced collaboration of all govt agencies concerned with the help of local residents”.
“We hope to see more collaboration from different stakeholders in the coming days to destroy the ASG and rescue the remaining hostages.” Brig. Gen. Dela Vega added.
Col. Jose Faustino of 501st Brigade said “the relentless focused military operation will continue until we finally deal a crippling blow to the ASG and free the people of Sulu from these terrorists”.
Martina Yee has undergone medical check-up at Camp Bautista Hospital where she was immediately given food. She said she has not eaten since Monday evening. She will be brought to Zamboanga City anytime today.
POC:Col Rodrigo Gregorio / 09175595622 / Released by: Information Support Tm, JTFS