At least 36 members of the Abu Sayyaf Group have been killed since January in the course of ongoing military operations against various armed groups in Mindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said on Thursday.
In a press briefing, newly installed AFP spokesperson Brig Gen. Joselito Kakilala said 78 rebels have also been wounded while 18 high-powered firearms have been recovered from the bandits.
“With the current developments, we are gaining ground in our fight against lawlessness and terrorism,” Kakilala said.
He added that the ASG has also become paranoid following successful military offensives against the group.
“Kahit ingay ng palaka, ingay ng ibon, pinagdududahan nila na nagmo-monitor sa kanila, sa activities nila, that’show paranoid [they are],” he added.
Meanwhile, Kakilala said the AFP is hoping to bring normalcy back to the communities affected by military operations.
He said the AFP is coordinating with local government officials on how to deliver aid and medical services to the thousands of residents that have been displaced by the fighting.
“Once we have flushed out the armed bandits and terrorists from the affected areas, we will facilitate the safe return of the civilians back to their homes,” he said.
“We are appealing to all armed groups to end all acts of violence that have caused the displacement of people from different communities. Please consider your options: embrace lasting peace as our partners or continue to be on the run as enemies of the state,” he added.