AFP eyes more Tausugs for new brigade in war on terror in Sulu
ZAMBOANGA CITY—The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is targeting more young members of the Tausug, a warrior tribe, for recruitment as soldiers and members of a new brigade formed to boost the war on terror in Sulu province.
The recruitment of more Tausugs comes as the military is increasing its presence in Sulu through a new brigade.
“The creation of the new brigade is a significant step towards sustainable and inclusive peace in Sulu,” said Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, a military-led task force for security.
Gonzales said the new Army brigade to be deployed to the province would be filled mostly with Tausug recruits.
“We intend to fill it up with Tausug recruits. This provides an opportunity for the people of Sulu to take an active and meaningful role in securing their land,” Gonzales said.
In 2020, some 200 locals were inducted into the Army after completing training.
The military continues to face the challenge of wiping out the homegrown terror group Abu Sayyaf, which now has ties with Islamic State, in Sulu where it has established a bailiwick and recruits and trains suicide bombers.
Foreign terrorists are also believed to have found safe haven in the province to learn about the operations of Abu Sayyaf and volunteer in suicide bombing missions.
In the past two years, the military has made headway in a campaign to convince Abu Sayyaf members to give up terrorism and surrender instead. At least 446 Abu Sayyaf members had turned themselves in as of mid-February for a promise of peaceful and productive lives with government support.
Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said the stream of bandits surrendering to authorities could grow if they will be covered by the grant of amnesty by the government, as earlier suggested by Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman.
“Our gesture of accepting them will encourage others to lay down their arms and live peacefully for good,” Vinluan said.
Current security operations in Sulu are overseen by three brigades with at least 1,000 soldiers each—two from the Army and one from the Philippine Marines.
The province has 19 towns with close to a million people in all.
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