CEBU CITY–Government troops have surrounded a coastal village on Olango Island, 6.4 km from Lapu-Lapu City on Mactan Island, after a resident claimed seeing two armed men in the area past 2 p.m. on Thursday.
When police responded to the area, they heard successive gunfire apparently from long firearms at Sitio Bas Toral, Barangay San Vicente.
Different units of the police, along with members of the 47th Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army, and the Philippine Navy were currently conducting clearing operations in the area to verify whether or not bandits had entered the island.
Chief Insp. Miguel Andesa, chief of the Olango Police Station, neither confirmed or denied the presence of armed men in the area.
“Everything is subject for confirmation as of now. We are validating the claim of a woman regarding the presence of armed men, at the same time, we still have to confirm whether or not those bursts came from firearms,” he said in a phone interview.
The Philippine Navy, he said, had cordoned the area partly filled with mangroves and coconut trees.
“It’s night. We have to be careful. The best we can do now is to surround the place so that in case there are really armed persons in the place, we can easily go after them,” Andesa said.
The clearing operations started around 4 p.m. As of 9 p.m., Andesa said they had not seen the reported armed men.
“The mangroves and coconuts are quite many. It’s a good place to hide,” he said.
At 2:20 p.m., a woman, whose identity was withheld by the police, sought their assistance after she allegedly saw two men whose faces were covered with cloth and brought long firearms while walking along the shoreline of Barangay San Vicente, Olango.
The police then went to the place and heard at least six bursts of gunfire.
Many residents were alarmed especially after reports that there were still at least eight remaining members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) who survive the gunfight with government troopers in Inabanga town, Bohol last April 11.
Six alleged members of the armed group, including their leader Muamar Askali, were killed in the gunfight in Barangay Napo, Inabanga town last April 11.
Three soldiers—2nd Lt Estelito Saldua Jr.; Corporal Meljun Cajaban; Sergeant John Dexter Duero—and SPO2 Nazareno also died.