The remaining members of the local terrorist group, Abu Sayyaf, who were spotted in Bohol earlier this month, are now on their own, a military official said Saturday. General Oscar Lactao, commander of the Armed Forces Central Command, shared that without a leader or guide to go around, “they could not pose a threat to Bohol because they are now in survival mode, always on the run and hungry.”
ABS-CBN reports that the three surviving members left of the group of Abu Rami in Bohol, were identified as Alias Asis, Alias Abu Omar, and Alias Ubayda. Omar and Asis were spotted by locals in Clarin, Bohol, this week. Ubayda, according to charcoal makers in the town of Tubignon, asked for food, slippers, a cell phone, and money.
With this, the military also asked the public to stop spreading rumors and false information to avoid any panic. Officials also denied reports of more Abu Sayyaf members coming to Central Philippines to rescue the remaining members. It can be recalled, however, that a female cop, identified as Supt. Maria Cristina Nobleza, was caught and is now detained after a failed attempt to rescue the remaining members.
At the height of the military crackdown of the Abu Sayyaf in Bohol, a black Nissan Navara pickup, which Nobleza was in, drove past a checkpoint which prompted a car chase on April 22. The hideout of remaining members was then discovered 150 meters away from where the car was stopped. A local Muslim convert, Joselito Melloria, acted as a leader and guide after the death of the group’s leader, Muammar Askali, also known as Abu Rami on April 11. Melloria was killed later on with three more unidentified Abu Sayyaf members.
Nobleza and driver of the pick-up, Renierlo Dungon, were taken into custody for being involved with the local terrorist group. It was reported that Nobleza excused herself to use the bathroom while being interrogated. Her cell phone was later found in the toilet without a SIM card. With the help of a K-9 unit, the lost SIM card was recovered outside the restroom thrown into the ground. It contained exchanges of messages between Nobleza and the remaining members. The female cop denied all allegations of her involvement with the local terrorist group and stated she was in Bohol for a tour. Police officials, however, were in doubt, as the timing was very coincidental. She was relieved from her post in Davao region after news broke out. Nobleza and Dungon were transferred to the headquarters of Philippine National Police on April 25.
It was earlier this month when Abu Sayyaf group was reported to have successfully infiltrated the Central Philippines. Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Rami and 10 of his men were spotted in Bohol. The large number of tourists flocking the island may have drawn the local terrorist group to target the area. The island is known for popular tourist attractions like the Chocolate Hills, and the Tarsier. But with news of the local terrorist group’s presence in the island, the U.S., South Korea, and Australia have released travel advisories for their citizens.
It was believed that the ASG utilized pump boats from the island of Sulu in Southern Philippines to reach the island of Bohol. Eduardo Año, veteran intelligence officer and chief-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), told the press that the Armed Forces could have performed better with the news of Abu Sayyaf leaving Sulu.
“When we receive an intel report, we validate it. We cross-check. It’s not like we’re watching a CCTV and we see everything. We have to validate the intent of the Abu Sayyaf, whether they will go to Sabah, Palawan, Iloilo, or as far as Luzon. Those are the immediate questions.”
The AFP general, however, stated that they were not late to counter the group. Abu Sayyaf is said to have links to international Islamic terrorist group, the Al-Qaeda network.
[Featured Image by Rey Bayoging/AP Images]