‘DEAD OR ALIVE’

Duterte raises to P1M re­ward for the head of each of Abu Sayyaf hunted in Bohol; threat­ens to “in­vade Jolo”

Cebu Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - by Leo Ud­to­han

Tag­bi­la­ran City — Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte has or­dered a P1 mil­lion re­ward for the cap­ture of each Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) mem­ber now in In­a­banga town, Bohol — dead or alive.

He also en­cour­aged the res­i­dents to kill the at least eight mem­bers of the ban­dit group who were believed to be trapped in the hin­ter­land vil­lages of In­a­banga town, more than a week af­ter they en­tered the town’s Barangay Napo pur­port­edly to con­duct ter­ror ac­tiv­i­ties in nearby is­lands.

“I en­cour­age civil­ian to kill. Dead or alive yan may re­ward. Mas gusto ko yung dead kasi yung alive mag­pakain pa ako (The re­ward is dead or alive but I pre­fer them dead be­cause if they are alive, I will still have to feed them),” he told re­porters af­ter a se­cu­rity brief­ing with top mil­i­tary, po­lice and government of­fi­cials here on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

Mr. Duterte ar­rived in Bohol past 3 p.m. for a brief­ing on what hap­pened in In­a­banga town where at least 10 ASG mem­bers en­tered on board three mo­tor­boats on April 10.

The po­lice and the mil­i­tary, alerted by local res­i­dents, im­me­di­ately launched an of­fen­sive that in­cluded at least 10 air strikes, killing four ASG mem­bers in­clud­ing their leader Muam­mar Askali alias Abu Rami.

Also killed in the fire­fight were a local cou­ple in their 60s, three sol­diers and a po­lice­man.

At least eight ASG mem­bers, how­ever, man­aged to es­cape the government cor­don and are believed to be hid­ing some­where within the town’s sub­ter­ranean caves or its neigh­bor­ing ar­eas.

The Pres­i­dent was met by Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto, Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Leon­cio Evasco and other Cab­i­net sec­re­taries and local of­fi­cials at the Philip­pine Ports Au­thor­ity (PPA) multi-func­tion hall.

He told re­porters in an am­bush in­ter­view af­ter the meet­ing that Abu Sayyaf went to Bohol to spoil the pre-sum­mit meet­ings for the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (Asean) in Panglao town, which would of­fi­cially start to­day, Thurs­day.

The Asean-Hong Kong, China Free Trade Agree­ment (AHFTA) Trade Ne­go­ti­at­ing Com­mit­tee and Re­lated Meet­ings slated on Paglao Is­land in Bohol from April 18 to 22 have over 200 par­tic­i­pants from the ten mem­ber-coun­tries of the Asean and from Hong Kong.

“My or­der to the po­lice, la­hat even civil­ians who are in­ter­ested to fight and kill, ang or­der ko is dead or alive.”

Fight and kill

The Pres­i­dent en­cour­aged civil­ian par­tic­i­pa­tion in killing of the Abu Sayyaf mem­bers who are now believed to be hid­ing in vil­lages near Barangay Napo in In­a­banga where the en­counter took place.

“My or­der to the po­lice, la­hat even civil­ians who are in­ter­ested to fight and kill, ang or­der ko is dead or alive,” he said.

“Kung naka­p­atay ka (If you kill one) you don’t have to worry. You just go to the po­lice and make the re­port, state your truth . . . and I will take care of you,” he said.

Pres­i­dent Duterte said Abu Sayyaf mem­bers usu­ally have local con­tacts in the area they go to, most of whom are also crim­i­nals.

They would then con­duct kid­nap­ping ac­tiv­i­ties and hand their vic­tims to an­other group un­til they and their vic­tims reach the ASG base in Jolo where ne­go­ti­a­tions would be made, he said.

Mr. Duterte didn’t elab­o­rate on how to arm civil­ians.

“I’m not at lib­erty be­cause I have to talk to the local of­fi­cials, they might have some objections. . . . I would like to hear first what the Army (has to say) . . . what the sit­u­a­tion on how to arm the civil­ians,” he said.

’Bomb them’

Pres­i­dent Duterte also ad­vised the Philip­pine Navy to bomb ban­dits if found in the sea.

“My or­der to the Navy, kung pos­i­tive, pasabu­gin, wala nang sur­ren­der. Sabi ko canyonin mo na, wasakin mo,” he said.

(My or­der to the Navy, if pos­i­tive, bomb them. No need for them to sur­ren­der. Fire a can­non at them. De­stroy them.)

He said if there is a need to fin­ish the ban­dit group, he will in­vade Jolo.

“I will in­vade Jolo. In­va­sion nalang ta­laga. But maram­ing madis­grasya niyan, civil­ian, bata. Pag naipit na ang bayan, I will or­der in­va­sion sa Jolo. La­hat ng army, mil­i­tary, pupunta doon, bak­bakan na ta­laga. Iyan ang gusto nila, ibibi­gay ko sa kanila.”

(This will be an in­va­sion. But many will get hurt, civil­ian, chil­dren. If our coun­try will be in dan­ger, I will or­der an in­va­sion of Jolo. The Army, the mil­i­tary, will go there. It they want a fierce fight, I will give them one.)

This de­vel­oped as a 3,200-strong Cebu-Bohol Se­cu­rity Task Group (STG) was de­ployed in the prov­ince on Wed­nes­day morn­ing for the Asean trade meet­ing on Panglao Is­land, a re­sort­town con­nected to Tag­bi­la­ran City via a cause­way.

Chatto said the Asean meet­ings in Bohol will help im­prove the econ­omy of the prov­ince.

“We give the red car­pet re­cep­tion and wel­come be­cause we are open­ing Bohol to the rest of Asean and in­tro­duc­ing Bohol to Asean and show­cas­ing the best of Bohol and the peo­ple,” he said.

Chief Supt. Noli Tal­iño, po­lice di­rec­tor for Cen­tral Visayas who is the over­all com­man­der of the Asean se­cu­rity group in the re­gion, said that se­cu­rity and emer­gency per­son­nel will be sta­tioned at var­i­ous key ar­eas in Bohol to se­cure the around 200 Asean se­nior of­fi­cials at­tend­ing the AHFTA trade meet.

The per­son­nel from 21 na­tional government agen­cies in­clude the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice, Armed Forces of the Philip­pines, Bureau of Fire Pro­tec­tion and the Philip­pine Coast Guard, among oth­ers.

Sift­ing through in­for­ma­tion

Tal­iño, mean­while, said they re­ceived many in­for­ma­tion about the ASG rem­nants even be­fore the re­ward was an- nounced.

Yes­ter­day, the Armed Forces of the Philip­pine Cen­tral Com­mand (Cent­com) an­nounced that a con­cerned cit­i­zen was will­ing to give P800,000 for in­for­ma­tion lead­ing to where­abouts of the ASG mem­bers hid­ing in Bohol, or at P100,000 per ASG mem­ber found.

Tal­iño said they were also still ver­i­fy­ing the in­for­ma­tion that the re­main­ing ter­ror­ists were hid­ing in the bound­ary of In­a­banga and Clarin.

“Con­tin­u­ous yung fol­low-up ng at­ing mga tropa ng PNP and army. Pero wala pa ring spe­cific na lo­ca­tion na hi­na­habol natin (We’ve been con­tin­u­ously fol­low­ing it up. But we don’t have any spe­cific lo­ca­tion as of now),” Tal­iño said.

Tal­iño added government troops are still con­cen­trat­ing in In­a­banga in search­ing for the re­main­ing ASG mem­bers as se­cu­rity forces believed the mil­i­tants were still in the area./

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO/JONJI Y. GON­ZA­LES

Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte is met by Pres­i­den­tial As­sis­tant for the Visayas Michael Dino and AFP Cen­tral Com­mand chief Lt. Gen. Os­car Lac­tao upon his ar­rival at the Tag­bi­la­ran City Air­port on Wed­nes­day, April 19, 2017.

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