Gov’t forces effectively decimated number of terrorists in PHL— Palace PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 06 June 2013 17:51

Malacanang yesterday said government forces have effectively reduced the number of terrorists in the country in view of the latest Country Reports on Terrorism issued by the US Department of State citing Mindanao as a “terrorist haven.”

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda, in a press briefing, said the US report was “part of their being prudent as someone who would like to protect their citizens here.”

“We are aware of the presence of Abu Sayyaf (in Mindanao). It is not a secret. But our Armed Forces (of the Philippines) have effectively decimated their numbers,” he stressed.

“The Abu Sayyaf is more or less a bandit group already,” he added.

With regards to the New People’s Army, which was earlier tagged by the US as a terrorist group, Lacierda said these lawless elements “have been reduced to a kidnap-for-ransom group.”

“That’s the status right now, and we continue to pursue lawless elements in the country,” he said.

While citing its “strong counter-terrorism cooperation” with the Philippines, the United States noted that Mindanao remains classified as a “terrorist haven” due to the presence of the al-Qaida linked Abu Sayyaf, which the US had tagged as a foreign terrorist organization.

The Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA also remain on the terror list.

In its latest Country Reports on Terrorism released this week, the US Department of State, however, lauded the Philippines’ continuing pressure on known terror groups, saying that its efforts in the last decade “have been successful at isolating and constraining the activities of domestic and transnational terrorists.”

The report also noted successes, including the June 21 arrest of a suspected Abu Sayyaf member involved in the 2001 abduction of US citizens Martin and Gracia Burnham and Guillermo Sobero.

A group of 14 Abu Sayyaf members were earlier sentenced to life in prison in 2007 for the kidnapping and deaths of Sobero, Martin Burham and Filipino nurse Ediborah Yap.

The US also noted a police operation that resulted in the death of suspected Malaysian Jemaah Islamiyah member Mohammad Noor Fikrie bin Abdul Kahar on Dec. 14, who was known to be carrying a bomb in his backpack at the time.

The report also noted the continuing implementation of the country’s Internal Peace and Security Plan, which facilitates a military-to-civilian shift in internal security operations.