Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Thursday confirmed that Abu Sayyaf subleader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan is the new emir or leader of the ISIS group in the Philippines.
According to a report on News To Go, Año agreed with the report of the US National Defense that Sawadjaan, who is also suspected as the brain behind the January 27 twin bombings in a Jolo cathedral, is the new acting emir.
The report said though Sawadjaan did not take an oath to the ISIS, he started to act as an emir of the group last year after former emir Isnilon Hapilon was killed during the Marawi siege in 2017.
For his part, military spokesperson Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo said the Armed Forces won’t issue any confirmation on the matter.
“That terrorist group follows their own process of selection and confirmation. The AFP is not privy to it and will not issue any confirmation,” Arevalo said.
Nonetheless, Arevalo assured the public that their goal to neutralize these terrorists will remain whoever their leader is.
Arevalao said AFP chief General Benjamin Madrigal Jr. is willing to use all their resources and apply full force of the law to fight against them. “We will not stop until justice is served for the hapless civilians who were victims of their vicious attacks,” he said.
Meanwhile, a short statement issued by the Defense Department said it, along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, has “its own validation method independent of the PNP and other government agencies.”
“It would be inappropriate to issue further comments on this until we have received verification and confirmation from our own sources,” the DND said.
Authorities are still hunting down Sawadjaan and 14 other suspects behind the twin blasts in Jolo that killed 23 people and wounded over 100 others.
Five suspects have already surrendered and are now facing murder and multiple frustrated murder charges. —Joviland Rita/KBK/RSJ, GMA News