A report in the Philippine Daily Inquirer cited a report to officials including Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. indicating Filipinos are among the Southeast Asians being lured to conflict zones in the Middle East. Some Islamic militants are home-grown, just like the Abu Sayyaf (in photo), who have links with al-Qaeda terrorists. (Photo from http://vkb.isvg.org/Wiki/Groups/Abu_Sayyaf_Group_(ASG))

A report in the Philippine Daily Inquirer cited a report to officials including Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. indicating Filipinos are among the Southeast Asians being lured to conflict zones in the Middle East. Some Islamic militants are home-grown, just like the Abu Sayyaf (in photo), who have links with al-Qaeda terrorists. (Photo from http://vkb.isvg.org/Wiki/Groups/Abu_Sayyaf_Group_(ASG))

MANILA, Nov 3 (Mabuhay) – The military is looking into the circumstances that led to Sunday’s ambush by the notorious Abu Sayyaf bandit group in Basilan province that killed six soldiers.

“We have directed the conduct of an investigation as to how come that incident happened,” said Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), in an interview Monday.

He said the investigation will look into the possible tactical lapses on the part of the soldiers, who were providing security to the construction of the Basilan Circumferential Road project.

“If there were lapses, we will find out,” Catapang said. “There will be people who have to [be] investigated.”

The investigation will be led by AFP Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, Catapang said.

Meanwhile, Catapang said the military is still studying Autonomous Region in Muslim Minadanao governor Mujiv Hataman’s recommendation for an all-out military offensive against the al Qaeda-linked bandit group.

He said they would seek dialogue first with Basilan residents before launching an offensive.

“I want to correct that impression that we are on all-out offensive, what we are doing now is an all-out law enforcement operations,” he said.

Next week, the military will conduct a peace and economic development in Sulu, another bailiwick of the Abu Sayyaf, to identify the projects that would have to be secured.

“We’ll be having a meeting with the barangay captains, the mayors and the governor in Sulu to identify [the projects], para hindi naman tingin na panay giyera na lang ‘yung ginagawa natin doon,” he said.

Last month, the AFP has reinforced its forces in Sulu after the Abu Sayyaf  threatened to behead its German hostages. The hostages were eventually released.

Since then, the military continued its operations against the group, taking over abandoned camps.

Catapang said that the recent offensive by the members of the rebel group in Basilan has “no connection” with the military’s continuous operation in Sulu.

“The enemies there in Basilan are doing what they can do, so, if you lose your guard, they will take advantage of you,” he said.

In the latest development, Col. Alan Arrojado, commander of the AFP Joint Task Force Group Sulu, revealed that the military took over two abandoned ASG camp in Patikul town in Sulu on Monday.

One of the camps can accommodate about 80 people, while the other rebel hideout can harbor about 15 individuals.

Itong mga discoveries ay nagbigay ng extra knowledge or ideas sa mga operating troops natin sa mga locations ng mga ASG at mga withdrawal routes nila,” he said in a separate interview.

Alam na ngayon ng mga ASG na masusundan sila at lumiliit ang magagalawan nila kasi madali na silang maabangan o mapuntahan ng mga tropa,” he added.  (MNS)