‘Ready for Abu, terror groups’
WITH BORACAY CLOSURE
Three simulation exercises on dealing with terror attacks and other emergencies were staged in Oslob town, southern Cebu, by the military’s Central Command, Philippine Navy, Coast Guard and the police yesterday morning.
The exercises involved dealing with Abu Sayyaf bandits who posed as civilians and defusing a bomb. Lt. Gen. Paul Atal, Central Command chief, said these simulation exercises showed the readiness of their troops in dealing with any and all terror threats to the province.
In April 11 last year, Abu Sayyaf bandits were spotted by residents of Barangay Napo, Inabanga town in nearby Bohol province landing on their shores via the Inabanga River at 5 a.m.
The residents reported their sighting to the police who then alerted the military. A joint police-military contingent then engaged in a firefight with 11 Abu Sayyaf bandits.
Three soldiers, one policeman and two civilians were killed in the initial clash while the Abu Sayyaf bandits fled and were eventually killed in the next few days.
The incident marked the first time that Abu Sayyaf bandits were spotted operating in the Visayas region, far from their hideout in Mindanao. They tried to enter Bohol just as foreign officials were attending Asean meetings scheduled there.
Atal said they chose Oslob town to stage their simulation exercises owing to the town’s reputation as a tourist destination.
With the six-month closure of Boracay, Atal said more tourists are expected to visit Oslob town which is near Mindanao.
The Navy activated their Naval Task Force Sea Dog that will augment troops in monitoring and cracking down on terrorists who will head to sea for escape. A joint maritime task force in Bohol province is also on standby for this purpose.
Senior Supt. Edgar Allan Okubo, Cebu provincial police chief, said their simulation exercises also served notice to Oslob residents about their presence and their readiness to respond to emergencies.
Oslob Mayor Jose Tumulak echoed Okubo’s sentiments, saying their residents are ready to support the police and military should the need arise.
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