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Monday, July 15, 2024

Basilan town finally declared ASG-free

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After decades of being a hideout for the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), the municipality of Lantawan in Basilan was finally declared ASG-free.

Basilan Gov. Hadjiman Hataman-Salliman made the pronouncement in a ceremony held in Barangay Manggas, Lantawan on Tuesday, June 5. 

The declaration was affirmed by top military and police officials of the province. The governor cited the importance of unity in achieving peace. 

During the ceremony, a huge cache of firearms surrendered or retrieved from ASG personalities were presented, including one 50 Cal Barret Sniper rifle, four M16A1 rifles, two M1 Garand rifles, one MAC-11 machine pistol/submachine gun, one Shotgun, one M79 Grenade Launcher, and two .45 caliber pistols. 

Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Alvin Luzon, chief of the Army’s 101st Infantry Brigade (IB), said the declaration of Lantawan town as ASG-free is a historic milestone. 

“This achievement is a direct result of the unwavering resolve of the people of Lantawan, who chose peace over violence. It is a powerful symbol of hope and a testament to the strength of collaboration between the military, the local government, and the community,” Luzon said.

It can be recalled that Lantawan served as a major battlefield where troops confronted the notorious ASG terrorists different leadership, including Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, founder of the Abu Sayyaf Group; Khadaffy Janjalani; Abu Sabaya; and Isnilon Hapilon, the former emir of ISIS Southeast Asia.

The transformation of Lantawan is a testament to the unwavering commitment of the local government, led by Mayor Nasser Abubakar, the people of Lantawan, and the tireless efforts of the government forces, the officials said.

This declaration marks a significant victory in the fight against violent extremism in the province, they added.

For his part, Western Mindanao Command chief, Lt. Gen. William Gonzales commended the 101st IB “for this significant and historic achievement.” 

“I attribute this success to good governance and strong interagency collaboration. It is a testament to the good coordination and cooperation among the different sectors. May this declaration strengthen our convergence and unified efforts to eradicate the traces of terrorism and sustain peace in the communities,” Gonzales said in his remarks.

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