8 Sulu barangays certified ‘free of ASG influence’

By Ali G. Macabalang

Photo shows Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan Sr. signing an official document declaring eight villages in four component towns “free of influence” by the dreaded Abu Sayyaf Group. (Supplied photo)

COTABATO CITY – Eight villages in Sulu have been officially declared “free of influence” by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), an outlawed band long dreaded for life-taking extremism exemplified in kidnapping, bombing and other forms notoriety.   

Sulu Governor Sakur Tan Sr., after thorough assessments collaborated by the state security sector, made the formal declaration in a symbolic ceremony witnessed by top military officials at the governor’s office last January 19, Sonny Y. Abing, provincial information officer said in a social media post.

Covered under the declaration were barangays Timpuuk, Igasam, Kabbun Takas, Kan Ague and Liang, all of Patikul town; Masjid Punjungan in Kalingalan Caluang; Tayungan in Panamao; and Bagsak in Talipao, Abing’s post showed.

The post was coupled with photos showing Brig. Gen Antonio Bautista Jr., Army’s 11th Infantry Division deputy head, as well as Colonels Jose Emmanuel Mariano, Gregorio Nieveras and Christopher Tampus, and Cpt. Joshua Barrio witnessing the governor’s ceremonial signing.

Gov. Tan’s certification followed year-long clearing operations by the police and military with validation by the Ministry of the Interior and Local Governor (MILG) of the Bangsamoro autonomous government, Abing’s post said.

The MILG, one of the regional government’s frontline agencies actively involved in carrying out development efforts in Sulu, has expressed elation over the “end” of ASG threats in the eight villages and four mother towns.

“It’s good news, indicating greater leeway for public instrumentalities including the Bangsamoro government to carry out more life-changing initiatives in Sulu,” MILG Minister Naguib Sinarimbo was quoted as telling reporters.

The ASG, espousing the Wahhabi extreme ideology, has been posing threats in Sulu and parts of Sulu for some four decades now, gaining notoriety in the global security map, according to Wikipedia.

Since its inception in 1989, the group has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortion, among others, the online narrative said.

It was founded by Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, and led after his death in 1998 by younger brother Khadaffy until the latter’s death in 2006. On July 23, 2014, Isnilon Hapilon, one of the group’s leaders, pledged loyalty to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. Hapilon reportedly died in the bloody 2017 Marawi siege.

Gov. Tan has ostensibly been focused on administering focal development efforts in his province, a component of the Bangsamoro autonomous region, amid the lack of political rivals in his reelection bid as well as those of his children in vice gubernatorial congressional and mayoral posts. (AGM)

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