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Surrendered ASGs say morale of remaining comrades plummeting due to constant military offensives

Surrendered Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits are painting a grim picture of their comrades who are being constantly targeted by constant military offensives in Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi since last January.

The same brigands, who opted out of the fight, are also the ones providing the military critical information regarding location and composition of still active ASG bands, thus giving government security forces ample time to hunt and target them, said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo on Wednesday.

"These men (ASG surrenderers) are also the ones who gave us the information that 20 ASG bandits were killed in Basilan (during last week's FA-50PH bombing raid)," he said in Filipino.

Western Mindanao Command data indicated that from Jan. 1 up to May 17, a total of 81 ASG bandits were killed, with another 50 surrendering, apprehension of 18 and captured of 70 high and low powered weapons seized from the brigands.

Arevalo said the number of surrendered ASG terrorists is unprecedent as this is the first time the terrorists have opted to surrender en masse.

This is attributable to the intensified military offensives against them, he added.

The AFP public affairs office chief said the surrendered bandits are also claiming that their finances are going low due to their inability to kidnap new victims and ask for ransom, crimping on their ability to acquire weapons, food and other supplies.

This lack has caused the morale of the ASG members to plummet making their prone to surrender.

Also, constant government success in the anti-ASG campaign is convincing many people to cooperate with authorities further constricting the bandits ability to gain supplies and support in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

During Armed Forces of the Philippines chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año's assumption-of-command ceremonies last December, he pledged to eradicate the ASG threat by June this year.

Priam F. Nepomuceno / PNA