ABU ‘STRAGGLER’ FALLS
TWO MORE TO GO
TAGBILARAN CITY — Driven into the open by hunger and exhaustion, a remnant of the Abu SAyyaf Group (ASG) in Bohol fell into the hands of authorities on Thursday in Tubigon, Bohol.
Saad Samad Kiram, alias Abu Saad, 36, while armed, no longer had the will to resist when police and soldiers came to pounce on him while he was eating in a house in the interior village of Tanawan in Tubigon past 7 a.m. yesterday.
Kiram, a native of Tulayan, Luuk, Sulu, was said to be one of the boatmen of the three kumpit (fast-moving twin-motor bancas) that were used by the about 10 or 11 ASG members on a kidnapping mission who entered Bohol via the Inabanga River last April 10, according to a source in the police regional command.
Kiram is one of the three remaining ASGs still fleeing from authorities after eight of their companions, including their leader Abu Rami, were killed by state forces in separate clashes in Barangay Napo in Inabanga last April 11 and in the town of Clarin last April 22.
Hours after his arrest and following a series of questioning, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command (Centcom) and the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) issued a joint statement saying that the arrest of Kiram has removed all possible threat that the bandit group posed on Bohol Island.
“When asked, Samad (Kiram) volunteered information about their plan, composition and capabilities. His revelations confirmed the dissolution of the threat in the Province of Bohol,” said PRO-7 director Chief Supt. Noli Taliño and Centcom commander Lt. Gen. Oscar Lactao in their joint statement.
Kiram likewise admitted to authorities that his two companions — identified only Abu Asis and Abu Ubayda — were still alive but he did not anymore know what happened to them, as they went their separate ways after eluding pursuing soldiers and policemen in Clarin last April 22.
Kiram told investigators that Abu Asis has gunshot wounds in his feet and leg but was not in critical condition, according to a source privy to the investigation on Kiram who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak to the media.
Senior Supt. Felipe Natividad, director of the Bohol Provincial Police Office (BPPO), said it was a resident of Tanawan who alerted village authorities that a suspicious-looking man arrived at his house past 7 a.m. yesterday asking for food and a spare set of clothing.
Tanawan is about 7 kilometers from the town proper of Tubigon, the town next to Clarin where four ASG members, including Boholano Joselito Melloria, were killed in the April 22 clash.
Natividad said the owner of the house fed Kiram and, while the latter was eating, called the attention of the barangay officials who informed the Tubigon police and military troops from the 47th Infantry Brigade station who were in Barangay Macaas in Tubigon town at the time.
Kiram, who was “niwang kaayo” (very thin), was initially surprised when authorities barged into the house but did not resist arrest, said Natividad.
“He was surprised. The ASG straggler never expected na ganun nga . . . kumakain siya then biglang dumating ang ating tropa and he was apprehended,” said Natividad.
Recovered from Saad were a .45 caliber pistol, two magazines for the firearm, a cellphone and some personal items, including a toothbrush and a toothpaste, placed inside a Hello Kitty pouch.
Natividad said the resident who reported on the ASG member will receive the bounty of P1.1 million — P1 million from President Rodrigo Duterte and another P100,000 from a private donor.
Two more to go
Natividad believed the other two ASG remnants are still in Bohol.
“Nandito pa rin yan . . . mino-monitor pa rin ng ating sundalo at pulis plus of course the civilian. Nitong nangyari, napakalaki ang role ng community, the Boholano community. Sana tuloy-tuloy na tayo na makuha yung dalawa; sana dalawa nalang talaga,” he said.
(They are just here. Our soldiers and policemen will continue to look for them, with the help of the civilian residents. The community, the Boholano community, played a big role in this case. We hope this will continue and we will be able to capture the remaining two.)
Kiram was first brought to the headquarters of the 702nd Community Defense Center in Camp Bernido in Tagbilaran City for interrogation at around 10 a.m. before he was transferred at past 1 p.m., to Camp Francisco Dagohoy, the provincial police headquarters, also in Tagbilaran.
With Kiram’s arrest, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Central Visayas (CIDG-7) is positive they can get more information and evidence to back their cases against Supt. Maria Cristina Nobleza and ASG bomb expert Renierlo Dongon, who were arrested on April 22 in Clarin in a foiled rescue attempt of the remaining ASG members trapped in Bohol.
Chief Insp. Hector Amancia, deputy chief of CIDG-7, said they hoped to extract from Kiram information that would provide clear link between Nobleza and the ASG.
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