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11:02 PM April 18th, 2017

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By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Leo Udtohan, April 18th, 2017 11:02 PM
A poster with the identities and aliases of the members of the Abu Sayyaf Group who escaped the governments’ dragnet during last week’s siege in Barangay Napo, Inabanga town in Bohol that is posted on the municipality’s Facebook page.

A poster with the identities and aliases of the members of the Abu Sayyaf Group who escaped the governments’ dragnet during last week’s siege in Barangay Napo, Inabanga town in Bohol that is posted on the municipality’s Facebook page.

An anonymous donor is giving a P100,000 reward, or a total of P800,000, for information that can lead to the capture of each of the eight Abu Sayyaf members believed to be trapped in areas around Inabanga, Bohol. 

TAGBILARAN CITY — Someone is willing to give close to a million pesos just to ensure the arrest of the eight remaining Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members believed to be trapped in Inabanga town in Bohol.

The unnamed concerned citizen is willing to give P800,000 for the information leading to their capture, or P100,000 per Abu Sayyaf member.

Lt. Colonel Adolfo Espuelas Jr., head of the Military Intelligence Group in Central Visayas, refused to identify the source of the reward money.

He said the reward would go to the residents who had information on the whereabouts of the remaining Abu Sayyaf members who were believed to be hiding in villages near Barangay Napo in Inabanga, the site of the intense firefight last week, that resulted to the death of four Abu Sayyaf members, including their leader, Moumar “Abu Rami” Askali.

Three soldiers, a policeman and two Napo residents were also killed in the clash.

Information can be given to 302 Brigade hotline number 0905-455-1543 and will be verified by the military.

Inabanga Mayor Josephine Jumamoy, meanwhile, met with the chiefs of the 67 barangays in her town in the afternoon of Monday to announce the reward and other possible methods to flush out the terrorists, according to a staff of the mayor privy to the meeting.

During the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) meeting held at the Governor’s Mansion here on Tuesday, Espuelas said the eight Abu Sayyaf members tried to ask help from their comrades in Mindanao. He didn’t elaborate how the government got the information.

Espuelas said the group, led by Joselito Melloria who was allegedly the Mindanao-based militants’ contact in Bohol, tried to flee toward the neighboring towns of Clarin and Sagbayan but were deterred by the presence of policemen and soldiers in the areas.

Espuelas said one Abu Sayyaf member identified only as Alyas Asis had a cellphone to contact their comrades in Mindanao for a rescue.

“They have no support (from the community). They tried to get out from the province. They are exhausting all possible means on how to get (away) from the area,” said Senior Supt. Felipe Natividad, director of the Bohol Provincial Police Office, during the PPOC meeting.

Wounded and no water

The threat from the bandits has significantly diminished because they no longer possess enough firepower to go against government troops.

Police and military officials said some of the ASG members were also wounded. “They are wounded and no supply of water,” Espuelas said.

Aside from Melloria and Alyas Asis, also being hunted down were known only by their alias — Richard, Ubayda, Poy, Dah, Saad, and Amra.

Melloria is a native of Napo who served as guide of the alleged members of the bandit group when they entered the village on April 10. He left Napo several years ago when he married a woman who was allegedly the daughter of a leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group in Mindanao.

The police were alerted of their presence and coordinated with the military. A joint police-miltary team sent to Napo engaged the Abu Sayyaf in a fierce firefight that lasted more than 24 hours. The at least 10 airstrikes prompted at least 3,000 residents from Napo and nearby villages to evacuate.

When the smoke cleared, four alleged Abu Sayyaf members were killed: Abu Rami, the leader; Abu Sufyan, the group’s alleged bomb expert; Edimar Isnain, and an unidentified person. Also killed were couple Constancio Petalco, 65, and his wife Crisenta whom residents claimed were their neighbors in Sitio Ylaya, Barangay Napo, and were not members of the bandit group.

The casualties on the part of the government were identified as 2nd Lt Estelito Saldua Jr., Corporal Meljun Cajaban, Sergeant John Dexter Duero, and SPO2 Rey Anthony Nazareno, a member of the Special Weapons and Tactics from Calape town.

‘All systems go’

Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto said the support of local community helped in containing the threat.

It is also the same kind of support that is needed to ensure the success of Bohol’s hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) pre-summit meetings that will start today, April 18, and end on April 22. At least 200 delegates were expected to arrive for the meetings.

“It’s all systems go for the Asean,” said Chatto.

At leas 4,000 police, military and other law enforcement units had been tapped to secure the Asean meetings in Bohol.

Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) director, said the police can tightly secure the perimeter of Hennan Resort in Tawala, Panglao where the meetings will be held because it is an enclosed area.

“We are implementing tight security in the venues. We also have security personnel deployed covering the delegates’ route from the port and airport to their hotels,” said Chatto.

Espuelas said the delegates have nothing to fear because the tension was confined in Inabanga, which is some 71 kilometers from the capital Tagbilaran City and the adjoining Panglao Island.

The delegates will be billeted at Hennan Resort. Some delegates from Indonesia will be billeted at Paragayo — still on Alona Beach.

Tourists can still visit Alona Beach but will not be allowed inside Hennan Resort unless they are part of the delegation.

The delegates will be serenaded by the Loboc Children’s Choir on April 20 at the South Palms Resort.

The police will escort delegates when they visit the tourist spots in Bohol.

Taliño said their counterparts in the Philippine Coast Guard, the Maritime Police, and the Philippine Navy are also guarding the shores of Bohol, while members of the Philippine Air Force are monitoring the skies.

“I’m asking our people to be vigilant and alert at all times. If you notice suspicious-looking persons and unusual events, report them immediately to the police,” said Taliño.

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