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Sulu launches coastal patrol force vs Abu Sayyaf

Roel Pareño - The Philippine Star

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — To sustain military efforts in preventing Sulu from becoming a holding place for captives of the Abu Sayyaf, the provincial government and its 19 municipalities launched the Bantay Dagat Task Force over the weekend.

The Bantay Dagat or Sea Patrol Task Force will closely coordinate with government security forces to protect the territorial waters and maritime environment of the province, according to Gov. Abdusakur Tan Sr.

The initiative is intended to sustain government efforts that prevented the remaining Abu Sayyaf bandits from taking their hostages to the island province.

Tan said the local sea task force would also work with law enforcement agencies in monitoring illegal fishing activities, providing rescue operations and enforcing coastal laws.

The Sea Patrol Task Force is composed of 380 personnel of the Special Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit Active Auxiliary.

“The task force is equipped with motorboats that will patrol the surrounding islets and coastal areas of Sulu,” Tan said.

Task force members will undergo military training to be facilitated by the Army’s 11th Infantry Division (ID).

The task force was launched at the Maubuh Beach in Barangay Umangay, Patikul town.

Among those who attended the event were Defense officer-in-charge Senior Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr., Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr., National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos, Philippine National Police chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. and Philippine Coast Guard commander Admiral Artemio Abu.

Also present in the event were military and police commanders led by Western Mindanao Command acting chief Brig. Gen. Arturo Rojas, Joint Task Force Sulu and Army’s 11ID chief Maj. Gen. Ignatius Patrimonio, Bangsamoro police director Brig. Gen. John Guyguyon and ground commanders.

Abalos lauded the provincial government for addressing the security issues in the province.

ABU SAYYAF

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