From the Manila Bulleting (Apr 19): Investigation focus: How did Abu Sayyaf infiltrate Bohol
The Police Regional Office (PRO) in Central Visayas has launched an inter-agency investigation on last week’s clash between the Abu Sayyaf and government troops in Inabanga, Bohol, that will focus mainly on how the terrorist group was able to infiltrate the province and kept a covert presence there.
The PRO regional director, Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, said the military and the police were still conducting follow-up operations in Inabanga.
The sweep has already netted Joselit Melloria, said to belong to the extremist group ISIS.
Taliño said the encounter in Barangay Napo, Inabanga, is an isolated case and that Bohol remains safe and secure.
Chief Insp. Hector Amancia, deputy regional director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), one of the agencies involved in the investigation, said they are looking for evidence that the Abu Sayyaf group in Bohol was planning to detonate bombs.
Among the items seized from the group were an 81-mm mortar cartridge, three detonating cords, 49 blasting caps, blasting caps with cords, and eight improvised explosive device assemblies.
Amancia said murder charges will be filed against the Abu Sayyaf members and residents who connived with the terrorist group by letting them to stay in their houses.
The clash in Inabanga killed government troopers 2nd Lt. Estilito Saldua, Sgt. John Dexter Duero, PO2 Rey Anthony Nazareno, and Cpl. Meljune Cajaban.
Four members of the terrorist group were also killed: Mouamar Askali alias Abu Rami, a sub-leader; a certain alias Abu Sufyan, a bomb expert; a certain Edimar Isnain; and an unidentified armed man.
Based on latest information, eight out of 12-member Abu Sayyaf are still at large.
The incident in Inabanga has sent officials in Central Visayas scrambling to assure visitors and the local populace that they are safe.
In Cebu province, Vice Governor Agnes Magpale said she has received assurance from Cebu Provincial Police Office director Senior Supt. Eric Noble that his men are securing coastal towns in Cebu that face Bohol.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) has also said it is confident the military and the police were on top of the security situation in Central Visayas, following the recent travel advisory issued by the Korean Embassy warning its citizens against traveling to Bohol.
“We are actively coordinating for updates with our local and national security and law enforcement agencies who are fully capable of putting travelers concerns ease,” said DOT regional officer-in-charge Judy Gabato.
Early this week, the consulate of South Korea in Cebu had issued a travel advisory for Bohol, citing the fighting in Inabanga.