New AFP Chief vows ‘unrelenting’ ops vs. Abu Sayyaf, terror groups

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya took over the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Friday with a promise to “finish” the Abu Sayyaf and other terror groups.

“We will be unrelenting in our focused military operations against terrorist groups like the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and all its allied terrorist cells,” the 55-year-old former Chief of the Southern Luzon Command said.

Visaya also vowed to beef up the military capacity of the 130,000-strong AFP.

“We will realign military resources to their identified bailiwicks and sanctuaries and apply our military strength to suppress them, hunt them down and finish them,” he added.

He said the military “will continue to apply the full force of the law 24/7” to go after criminals and kidnap-for-ransom groups.

The ASG recently beheaded two Canadians in April and June after a ransom of P300 million each was not paid.

Visaya replaced then Acting Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda.

President Rodrigo Duterte led the change of command ceremony at the General Headquarters Grandstand in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, where he also met Vice President Leni Robredo for the first time after the elections.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald Dela Rosa was sworn in earlier in the day and Visaya expressed support for the police force’s campaign against crime and illegal drugs.

“We will also intensify our support to law enforcement agencies particularly the PNP and the PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) in their vision to eliminate widespread criminality and the wanton destruction of lives brought about by the spread and use of illegal drugs,” Visaya said.

Duterte said illegal drugs could not be totally eliminated, but could be suppressed with the help of the armed forces.

Visaya echoed Dela Rosa and Duterte’s plans of weeding out scalawags within their ranks.

Amid fears of extrajudicial killings following the Duterte administration’s strong statement against criminals and drug lords, Visaya said the AFP “will always be guided by the principles of transparency, accountability and adherence to human rights, international humanitarian law and the rule of law.”