'Soldiers were like sitting ducks vs Abu Sayyaf'

RJ Rosalado, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 24 2016 11:33 PM

Another soldier died after the gun battle between government forces and members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) resumed in Basilan last Tuesday. 

A soldier was first reported as critically wounded on Tuesday after he sustained multiple gun shots wounds from a sniper of the ASG. 

After a day in a hospital in Zamboanga city, the soldier succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday morning.

Two other soldiers were killed during the battle with the Abu Sayyaf in Barangay Dugaa, bringing the death toll from the recent encounter to 3. 

The fatalities were identified as Corp. Audie Vedua and Sgt. Marvin Mendana, both from Philippine Army.

Amber Vedua, younger brother of Corp. Vedua, said based on the information they got from their brother's comrades, the bandits positioned themselves in a higher ground, giving them a clearer vantage point against the soldiers.

Vedua said the soldiers were like sitting ducks being attacked by snipers of the ASG.

The Civil-Military Officer of the 4th Special Forcers Batallion, First Lt. Ron Villarosa, said one member of the ASG was killed during the encounter.

Basilan Governor Jim Salimman said the military overran a permanent encampment of the ASG in Tuburan town after pursuing the bandits for hours since Tuesday.

Salimman said the encampment area was one of the strategic lines of defense of the bandits, which was never controlled by the Armed Forces of the Philippines before.

Villarosa said the ASG is on the run as they try to look for a new hideout outside the area of Tuburan. He doubts if the bandits will go back to their encampment areas in Albarka and Tipo-Tipo, which were overran and are occupied now by government forces.

Salimman said, the 74th Infantry Battalion has already established their new camp in Barangay Baguindan, which was known before as one of the strongholds of the ASG.

Salimman also requested that another military camp be established in Sumisip town to push the bandits away from the municipality.

The intensified offensives of the military against the ASG were in line with President Rodrigo Duterte's order to finally end the kidnapping menace in southern Philippines, which has been used by the ASG to fund their operations and upgrade their logistics as well.