One of Abu Sayyaf remnants sighted in Tubigon by farmer

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Benjie Talisic, Leo Udtohan, Nestle L. Semilla April 27,2017 - 11:00 PM
 Military forces with their armored personnel carrier (APC) continue their checkpoints in the roads of Clarin, Bohol. Capt. Jojo Mascariñas of the 302nd Infantry Brigade said that three remaining members of the Abu Sayyaf are still in Bohol and will try to blend in with the community in order to escape the military cordon. (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)

Military forces with their armored personnel carrier (APC) continue their checkpoints in the roads of Clarin, Bohol. Capt. Jojo Mascariñas of the 302nd Infantry Brigade said that three remaining members of the Abu Sayyaf are still in Bohol and will try to blend in with the community in order to escape the military cordon. (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)

One of the three remaining members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) being hunted by government troops in Bohol was sighted in Tubigon town last Wednesday wearing new clothes, a ranking army official said.

Tubigon is adjacent to Clarin town, where a joint team of soldiers and policemen engaged the seven ASG members who were able to flee from Barangay Napo, Inabanga town where the first encounter happened.

Four of the Abu Sayyaf were slain in Barangay Bacani, Clarin, while three were able to flee to the mountains.

Captain Jojo Mascariñas, spokesperson of the 302nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army in Bohol, said a farmer from Barangay Buenos Aires in Tubigon reported that a tired-looking man was asking for food and a pair of slippers using sign language.

Fearing for his life, the farmer gave him food. The man hurriedly ate and left the area, said Mascariñas.

The man purportedly left the village and avoided the national highway.

He said that unlike the ASG members in Clarin whose smell gave them away, the man in Tubigon wore new clothes.

Blend in

Mascariñas said the three remaining bandits identified as Alyas Asis, Kaifar Sawadjaan also known as Um Ammra and Alyas Ubayda are still hiding in the mountains of Bohol, fighting for their survival.

He warned that the three remaining ASG members could just blend in among the people.

“Be careful. They can just blend in,” he said, as he again urged the public to immediately alert the authorities of the presence of suspicious-looking people.

He urged the public to report if they lose clothes from their clotheslines or see suspicious-looking men to the 302nd Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

He said one characteristic that the public should watch out for is the manner of speaking of strangers.

“They (Abu Sayyaf) don’t speak Cebuano well. They can pretend to be deaf or mute so that people won’t be able to identify them through their language,” Mascariñas said.

Mascariñas also belied reports that one of the bandits pretended to be a passenger and boarded a commercial ship in Jagna town, Bohol, last Friday.

“Not one of them has escaped. They are all still hiding in the mountains, trying to evade our troops. It’s just a matter of time and we will get all three,” he said.

“They are not much of a threat now. Instead, we (soldiers and the police) are the threat to them,” he added.

Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), said only one of the three surviving bandits has a firearm.

“In case they want to surrender, we’re willing to facilitate it. But normally, these people will not surrender,” he said.

Safe

Meanwhile, Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto and Provincial Tourism Council Chairman Lucas Nunag issued a statement assuring the public that Bohol is safe and the popular tourist destinations are far from the areas where the encounters happened.

They said that checkpoints are being conducted at the entry and exit of these tourism zones to ensure the safety of the traveling public.

“The private stakeholders of the Bohol tourism industry and the provincial government of Bohol declare Bohol as a totally safe place to visit at any given time. The traditional warm hospitality of the people in Bohol awaits you,” the statement read.

Since April 11, eight Abu Sayyaf members were killed in two gun battles in the municipalities of Inabanga and Clarin.

They were identified as Mouamar Askali, leader of the group; bomb experts Abu Sufyan and Edimar Isnain; Joselito Melloria, a native of Bohol who guided the ASG; pumpboat operator Aldimar Taib; alyas Richard; alyas Omil; and an unidentified man.

Three bandits remain at large.

No reinforcements

Lt. Col. Luzmindo Mamaug, spokesperson of the AFP Central Command, appealed to the people to help government troopers fight the Abu Sayyaf in Bohol.

“The various information relayed to us by the people provided us a huge lift. And so we again appeal for help from the public. Peace and security is the concern, not just of authorities but of everyone,” he said in a separate interview.

Since only one of the three remaining bandits are armed, Mamaug said they don’t need to send additional troops in Bohol.

“Kayang-kaya na yan. No need of reinforcement. The situation has been contained and under control,” he said.

Mamaug said government troopers will not leave Bohol until the three remaining Abu Sayyaf members are arrested or killed.

He said the naval forces and the maritime police continue to monitor the seas surrounding Bohol to prevent the bandits from escaping and to stop any rescue mission.

Random checkpoints are also being conducted by the police in key areas in Bohol.

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TAGS: Abu Sayyaf Group, ASG, Barangay Bacani, bohol, Captain Jojo Mascariñas, Clarin

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