The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) considers the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) has weakened as the former was able to kill 94 members of the terror group from January-June 2017 following military offensives introduced by the Duterte government. The deaths of these militants were from series of clashes in the Zamboanga Peninsula region, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces.
Aside from the death of these militants, Philippine security forces also arrested 66 ASG suspects while 98 others voluntarily surrendered to police and military authorities due to increasing pressure in the battle zone.
The military offensives also recovered 148 high powered assorted firearms from suspected ASG camps in Basilan and Sulu. The firearms recovered include M1 Garand rifles and magazines with live ammunition.
Lt. General Carlito Galvez told journalists on Friday that soldiers continue to pursue the ASG in order to sustain internal security in Mindanao.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he will finish off the ASG without US support as the leader is at odds with the US government for meddling into the affairs of his campaign against illegal drugs. Duterte also said that he has already deployed 10,000 soldiers to engage with less than a thousand ASG fighters in Basilan and Sulu.
There are still hundreds of US special forces in the Southern Philippines who hold a series of joint military exercises with their Filipino military counterparts. The joint exercise is one of the agreed provisions provided for in the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the US and the Philippines signed in 2014.