At least seven Marines and five Abu Sayyaf extremists were killed in a clash yesterday as government security forces launched an offensive against the al-Qaeda-linked gunmen who have been blamed for the country’s deadliest terror attacks, the military said.
Nine other Marines and a number of Abu Sayyaf fighters were wounded, Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan told Agence France Presse.
A firefight broke out near the coastal town of Patikul in Sulu province as troops tracked the militants, he said.
“It was an early-morning firefight. Our forces were tracking those responsible for some recent kidnappings in the area, including the wife of a soldier,” Tutaan added.
The social worker wife of a Marine had been freed unharmed by the Abu Sayyaf on nearby Basilan island two days after her abduction, he said.
The wounded Marines were airlifted to a military hospital in the southern port of Zamboanga, Tutaan said, adding none of their injuries was life-threatening.
Col. Jose Cenabre, commander of a Marine brigade in the area, said a Marine reconnaissance team under him was involved in the firefight.
“The close-quarter combat resulted in casualties on both sides,” he told reporters by telephone.
The military’s Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) also yesterday deployed four helicopter gunships to relentlessly pursue the Abu Sayyaf bandits.
Westmincom chief Lt. Gen. Rey Ardo, upon receipt of the report, directed the deployment of the helicopter gunships to provide air support to the ground troops and relentlessly pursue the bandits, according to Westmincom spokesman Col. Rodrigo Gregorio.
“The command has deployed four helicopters — two rocket-firing MG-520 attack helicopters and two UH-1H (Huey) helicopters,” he said.
Also, police authorities in Sulu were placed on heightened alert following the clash.
Chief Supt. Noel de los Reyes, police regional director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) where Sulu is a component province, ordered Sulu acting police provincial director Senior Supt. Abraham Orbita to put all police forces on alert to prevent “diversionary tactics” that may be carried out by the Abu Sayyaf to divert military action.
Police are anticipating the beleaguered Abu
Sayyaf members may resort to bombing and kidnapping to divert the attention of military authorities.
In the past, when the military launched large-scale punitive action against the al-Qaeda-linked extremist group, bombings and kidnappings occur in downtown Jolo and other towns in the island province.
Founded using seed money from al-Qaeda in the 1990s, the Abu Sayyaf is blamed for the worst terror attacks in the country, including the firebombing of a ferry in Manila Bay and kidnappings of foreign tourists.
The Abu Sayyaf is believed to be holding Jordanian journalist Baket Atyani.
Atyani, along with two Filipino TV crew, were taken by the bandit group on June 2012.
The Filipino companions of Atyani were freed last year.
Aside from Atyani, the Abu Sayyaf is also holding other foreign and local captives.
The group is on the US government’s list of so-called foreign terrorist organizations.
About 600 US troops have been rotating through Mindanao for a decade to help train local troops in hunting the Abu Sayyaf, who enjoy local support at their bases in some of the poorest areas of the Philippines. Gina P. Elorde, PNA and AFP
Sunday, 26 May 2013 08:00 Published in Headlines
With days before the June opening of school year, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada is urging employers to allow their household workers to study and secure academic diploma.
Estrada said domestic workers, including nursemaid or “yaya,” cook, gardener, laundry person and general househelp, are guaranteed of the right to education and training under the recently enacted Batas Kasambahay or Republic Act 10361.
Section 9 of Article 2 (Rights and Privileges) says the “employer shall afford the domestic worker the opportunity to finish basic education and may allow access to alternative learning systems and as far as practicable, higher education or technical and vocational training.”
Moreover, “the employer shall adjust the work schedule of the domestic worker to allow such access to education or training without hampering the services required by the employer.”
Section 2, Article 4 of the Convention 189 (Convention Concerning Decent Work
for Domestic Workers, which the Philippines y ratified) also provides that “each member shall take measures to ensure that work performed by domestic workers who are under the age of 18 and above the minimum age of employment does not deprive them of compulsory education, or interfere with opportunities to participate in further education or vocational training.”
Jinggoy appeals to employers not to deprive helpers the opportunity to learn more and finish at least elementary and secondary education to widen their horizon and to uplift their standard of living.
Estrada, chairman of the Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, explained the said privilege is even more relevant to working children aged 15 to 17 employed as kasambahay.
“Let us not deprive our kasambahay the opportunity to enrol in schools and acquire new knowledge and skills as a step towards a more productive, high-paying career in the future,” Jinggoy says.
Under the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) issued and published by the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) last May 19, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) shall also facilitate access of kasambahay to efficient training, assessment and certification based on training regulations for household services to ensure productivity and assure quality of services.
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