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AFP eyes to end Abu Sayyaf by this year, Gapay says

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is eyeing to eradicate local terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group within this year, AFP chief General Gilbert Gapay said on Tuesday.

During the budget hearing of the Department of National Defense, Deputy Speaker and Basilan Representative Mujiv Hataman asked the military for its timeline on ending the Abu Sayyaf and other lawless groups.

"As far as 'yung Abu Sayyaf, sir, we are striving to really end it this year and the entire local terrorist group problem would be... by 2022, before the term of President Duterte ends. 'Yun ang timeline ng Armed Forces of the Philippines," Gapay answered.

"Right now our focus is the Abu Sayyaf Group operating in Basilan and Sulu. Ang target po namin diyan is we will endeavor to really degrade them significantly," he added.

The military had said the Abu Sayyaf was the one behind the deadly explosions in Jolo, Sulu which killed at least 15 individuals and injured more than 70 others.

The twin blasts were triggered by two female suicide bombers, according to the military. 

Foreign terrorists

Meanwhile, the AFP chief also bared that eight foreign terrorists are currently in the country and are integrated with local terror groups.

"Right now, we have identified eight foreign terrorists hiding in our country and are integrated in the local terrorist groups factions, particularly the Abu Sayyaf," Gapay said.

He also said 29 others are on the military's watchlist: "We are still confirming this and verifying that information so ganon ang number ng foreign terrorists which we are monitoring."

Gapay reiterated that there is a need to strengthen the maritime security protocols as these terrorists from other countries "sneak in" through the Philippines' backdoors.

Aside from improving maritime security, Gapay also said the AFP has been intensifying measures to prevent the radicalization of the youth. —AOL, GMA News