BOHOL NOW ‘ABU SAYYAF-FREE’
CALAPE, Bohol — Hungry and ragged after weeks of hiding, Abu Sayyaf bandits known only as Abu Ubayda and Abu Asis held a resident’s son hostage in exchange for a decent meal in Barangay Kahayag in this town at 7 a.m. yesterday.
That proved to be their undoing as the resident’s wife reported their presence to the barangay chairman.
The official then reported his discovery to the troops that have been stationed on Pangangan Island, Calape town since May 10.
A shootout broke out between the troops and Abu Sayyaf bandits at past noon and a chase ensued that ended with Ubayda and Asis shot dead by soldiers at a mangrove area in Barangay Lawis yesterday afternoon.
Their deaths spelled the end of the Abu Sayyaf threat in Bohol, the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) said.
Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, PRO-7 chief, confirmed that there were no more Abu Sayyaf bandits in Bohol.
In a joint statement, both the PRO-7 and the Armed Forces’ Central Command (Centcom) said both Ubayda and Asis were armed with an M16 rifle and .45 pistol respectively when they exchanged gunfire with pursuing troops.
“With the death of Asis and Ubayda, all the ASG members that landed in Bohol province aboard three (3) bancas in early April 2017 were all neutralized. Bohol is now cleared of ASG elements,” their statement read.
Gen. Arnulfo Matanguihan, the Army’s 302nd Brigade commander, said both Ubayda and Asis sustained gunshot wounds in the head.
But Ubayda was unrecognizable after he was repeatedly shot in the face.
Mantanguihan said the end for both Ubayda and Asis began when they spotted a resident and his seven-year-old son gathering seashells along a mangrove forest at 7 a.m.
A family relative who requested anonymity said the two Abu Sayyaf bandits approached and pointed their guns at them, telling them to give them food.
To make sure that the resident would comply, they held his son hostage.
The man went home in Barangay Kahayag, a few meters from the mangrove area, and returned with rice and paksiw na isda or catfish stewed in vinegar.
He and his son watched as Ubayda and Asis feasted on their meal.
They didn’t know that the man’s wife reported their presence to Barangay Kahayag chairman Ian Bahandi who then reported them to the soldiers.
The troops were on standby after receiving reports of the bandits’ presence in the area.
A team then went to the mangrove area and spotted the two bandits who responded with gunfire.
The man and his son scampered for safety while Ubayda and Asis ran to nearby Barangay Lomboy where they commandeered a motorcycle from a resident.
They sped towards Barangay Lawis, the entrance to Pangangan Island, only to spot a police checkpoint.
The bandits abandoned the motorcycle and ran on foot, returning to the mangrove area in Barangay Lawis.
The troops pursued the two men and the running gun battle continued.
A resident who saw Ubayda and Asis tried to hack them with a scythe only to be overpowered and struck on the back with his own scythe.
He was brought to a hospital where he is in stable condition.
Ubayda and Asis were eventually cornered near the mangrove area where Ubayda was repeatedly shot in the head at past 1 p.m.
Asis managed to flee but was only 100 meters away from where Ubayda was killed before he was also shot down by the soldiers.
Ubayda and Asis were the last two of the 10 Abu Sayyaf bandits who entered Barangay Napo in Inabanga town last April 10 by boat to set up a base there for their terrorist activities.
Out of hiding
Alarmed by the presence of armed men, residents tipped off the police who then alerted the military.
A gun battle ensued that left three Abu Sayyaf members dead including their leader, Abu Rami.
The seven bandits ran to nearby Clarin town and hid inside a cave in Barangay Bacani.
On April 22, troops were tipped off on their presence by a habal-habal (motorcycle-for-hire) driver and three residents.
Another gun battle broke out and four of them died including Joselito Melloria, who guided the band of bandits to his hometown in Barangay Napo.
Last May 4, Abu Sayyaf member Saad Kiram went out of hiding and asked for food from residents in Tubigon town, Bohol.
He was arrested and brought to a police camp in Tagbilaran City for interrogation.
Kiram was killed the next day after he supposedly tried to fight police to escape from their custody./With a story by Cebu Daily News reporter Nestle L. Semilla