Sunday, September 2, 2007

AFP Not Taking Break During Ramadanadingdong

Why should they stop during the Musim holy month? The MILF and Abu Sayuuf certainly haven't stopped their terror attacks during any Christian holidays.

Defense chief says offensive to continue during Ramadan

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said Friday the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will not stop its offensive against the terrorists in Western Mindanao during the observance of the Muslim’s holy period Ramadan.

“We cannot stop the operations,” Teodoro told reporters in Camp Auginaldo after the graduation of students of the National Defense College of the Philippines who took up their master's degree on national security administration.

Teodoro made the declaration following appeals by some sectors, including Muslim religious groups, to temporarily halt the operations against the Abu Sayyaf during the duration of the month-long Ramadan which begins September 12.

“On when and where the operations will be conducted are up to the (military) commanders but we (defense department) cannot go above their heads and stop it,” he added.

The government has stepped up operations against the Abu Sayyaf, specifically in Basilan and Sulu provinces, following bloody fightings that have left over a hundred soldiers and Abu Sayyaf men dead.

The bandit group members in Sulu are said to be in the company of at least two leaders of the Southeast Asian regional terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah – Dulmatin and Umar Patek – who are responsible for the 2002 attack in Bali, Indonesia that killed some 202 people.

The group, which has about 300 to 400 members throughout the country, is responsible for a number of high-profile kidnappings and bombings in the country, among them the attack on a passenger ferry off Manila Bay in 2004 that left 200 people dead.

There has been a lull in the fighting after last Monday’s brief fighting in the outskirts of Tipo-tipo town in Basilan between patrolling Marine soldiers and the Abu Sayyaf terrorists that left two soldiers wounded.

Asked on the lull in the offensive, Teodoro said: “That’s up to the commanders.

"I cannot speak for the commanders. They exercise their own independent judgment as to when and where to conduct the operations.”