The deployment of 10,000 foot soldiers to pursue the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG's) on the island provinces of Basilan and Sulu has tightened the noose around the militants. Recently, Philippines military confirmed that another Abu Sayyaf leader Commander Udon Hashim has surrendered.
It was reported that Hashim, along with two unnamed Abu Sayyaf fighters, voluntarily surrendered as they were tired of trying to fall away from the radar of pursuing soldiers.
The military also reported that ASG's top leader 74-year-old Radullon Sahiron has also sent feelers to surrender. The US government has offered US $1m reward to anyone who can provide information that will lead to Sahiron's arrest.
The Duterte administration organised the Sulu Joint Task Force (JTF Sulu), a composite military team, to pursue the Abu Sayyaf to meet the 30 June deadline to finish off the 16-year-old terrorist group.
The surrender of ASG officers took place just a few days after the death of ASG sub-leaders Abu Rami and Abu Misaya. The former was killed in Bohol, Central Philippines following his group's failed attempt to kidnap new victims.
Military also disclosed that the death of Misaya and Rami will come as a big blow to ASG as these two leaders were known to be the operational planners of the terror group. They were also responsible for a series of kidnapping and piracy activities not only in the Philippine but also in the Malaysia border.
History of ASG
The ASG, whose founding members were sons of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) started as a small revolutionary organization in 1991. However, as the group started to acquire guerrilla training and sophisticated firearms, it evolved to become one of Southeast Asia's most dangerous terror group, which is feared for maritime piracy and kidnapping activities targeting both local and western tourists.
Other terror groups
Apart from the ASG, the Philippine military also has to deal with another militant group known as the Maute Group operating in Central Mindanao. The Maute group was earlier belittled by the military but it has started rising again. Security personnel were extremely surprised when Maute Group militants captured a town hall in Lanao del Sur province following a violent firefight with Philippine's foot soldiers.
Duterte warned that something has to be done in Mindanao to prevent ISIS ideology to influence separatist militants that could also pose security threats to her ASEAN neighbours.