Abu Sayyaf terrorists are still holding 10 hostages, four of them foreigners, in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, according to a military official.
In a phone interview with reporters, Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, said one Dutch, three Indonesians, and six Filipinos are still in the hands of the local terrorist group.
Despite this, Sobejana said operations against the Abu Sayyaf are ongoing although their priority is the safety of the hostages.
“Ang priority kasi natin ‘yung kidnap victim para hindi na restricted ‘yung ating operation,” he said. “Sa ngayon kasi with the kidnap victims siyempre medyo calculated [ang kilos natin].”
Sobejana said President Rodrigo Duterte is satisfied with the performance of the military in fighting the local terrorists and ensuring peace and order in Sulu.
“Masaya siya na may significant improvement sa security situation sa Sulu, but of course chinallenge niya ‘yung local government to also do their part,” he said.
On March 26, a total of 76 Abu Sayyaf members who surrendered to authorities were presented to Duterte. The Chief Executive also inspected the weapons handed-over by the Abu Sayyaf members to the military.