PRESIDENT Duterte on Monday commended troops who figured in an operation that led to the death of seven Abu Sayyaf members, one of them a potential leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in the country, off Parang, Sulu last week.
1Lt. Jerrica Manongdo, spokeswoman of the Joint Task Force Sulu, said the President, aside from commending the troops at Malacanang, also gave cash incentives to the soldiers but did not say how much.
Manongdo said Army chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Navy chief Vice Adm. GIovanni Carlo Bacordo and Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes were among the military commanders present during the ceremony.
Manongdo quoted the President as saying: “To the valiant troops we are honoring today, please accept my love for you and your families… you have earned the respect of a grateful nation. Mabuhay kayong lahat.”
The operation, codenamed Operation Perfect Storm, was executed early morning of November 3, involving Army, Air Force and Navy units who utilized a Navy multi-purpose attack craft and an attack helicopter.
Troops engaged Abu Sayyaf men aboard a high-speed boat near Sulare Island. The Navy vessel later rammed the suspects’ boat, cutting it in half.
The seven, who were said to be planning to kidnap businessmen in mainland Mindanao, went missing after the firefight but the military presumed them as already dead.
On Saturday, the military recovered one of the bodies and identified it as Dave Sawadjaan, a cousin of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Mundi Sawadjaan, who has been tagged by the military as the mastermind behind several suicide bombings in Sulu.
The six others who the military said died in the operation includes sub-leader Mannul Sawadjaan, who is said to be in the running to become the emir of ISIS in the country.
Mannul is a cousin of Mundi.
AFP Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan and JTF Sulu commander Maj. Gen. William Gonzales attended the ceremony virtually.