Anti-terror measures making headway
THE PHILIPPINES CONTINUED TO GAIN headway in its all-out war on terror, neutralizing pirates and other lawless elements, including the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf extremist group operating in the oil-rich Sulu Sea and Basilan Strait in southern Philippines.
The Philippine Army announced their latest breakthrough against terrorism following the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. SEAL commando forces in a daring military operation in Abbotabbad, Pakistan early this week.
Lt. Gen. Arturo Ortiz, commanding general of the Philippine Army, said the coastal waters of Zamboanga Peninsula, Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Sulu which have been the traditional mobility corridors of the Abu Sayyaf and other armed groups prompted the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to take action, ending years of “cat-and-mouse” warfare against these lawless elements.
The Sulu Sea which links with Spratly chain of islands in the South China Sea is reportedly abundant in untapped oil reserves.
Philippine President Benigno C. Aquino III said that “the death of Osama bin Laden should not lull us into complacency.”
“The world must continue to consistently and courageously raise its collective voice against religious hatred, political intolerance, and terrorism of all kinds. We must remain vigilant and united in pursuing peace, pluralism, and collective efforts at security,” Aquino said in a statement.
“The death of Osama bin Laden marks a signal defeat for the forces of extremism and terrorism,” he said, adding “that Bin Laden’s death also represents the end of the efforts of one man to stoke the fires of sectarian hatred and promote terrorism on a scale unprecedented in the history of mass murder.”
“Let us not forget that this is not just an achievement for the United States. It has brought justice to over a dozen Filipinos who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 in the World Trade Center,” Aquino said.
“One sword has been beaten down; we must continue to be dedicated to the principle of beating the swords of terrorism into the plowshares of progress and peace,” the President added.
The Philippines is part of the global war on terrorism spearheaded by the United States.
Aquino also said that as a democratic and free people, “the Philippines remain committed to combat terrorism and are in solidarity with the peoples of the United Nations.”
The killing of Bin Laden has only drawn a ripple of protest by some Muslim groups in Manila thus far.
About 100 Filipino Muslims on Friday met at the US embassy in Manila for a sympathy march to protest the burial at sea of Osama bin Laden. The protest march was led by Sheikh Jamil Yahya who hailed bin Laden as a “martyr.”
The protesters who are members of the Maradeka and the Bangsamoro Supreme Council of the Ulama were stopped by policemen before reaching the US Embassy.
Elsewhere, Gen. Ortiz lauded the Army's Special Forces Regiment for the successful fight against the Abu Sayyaf pirates and extortionists operating in southern Philippines.
The Army has intensified its coastal patrols in these areas to combat extortion and rampant piracy that has victimized fishing operators - big or small.