OF­FI­CIALS AS­SURE NO ABU IN CEBU

Cebu Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - – Sto­ries by Ador Vin­cent Mayol, Ben­jie Tal­isic, Leo Ut­do­han, Doris Bong­cac and Nes­tle L. Semilla

Law en­forcers as­sure there is no Abu Sayyaf in Cebu and the eight mem­bers of the ban­dit group are still trapped in In­a­banga, Bo­hol. A leader of the Mus­lim com­mu­nity in Cebu says they have given full co­op­er­a­tion to the po­lice and un­der­stands when some of their Mus­lim brothers are in­vited by the po­lice for ques­tion­ing. Po­lice re­leased six “sus­pi­cious-look­ing” men, later found to be law-abid­ing Mus­lim traders, held in Os­lob town. One of them laments: “Not all Mus­lims are Abu Sayyaf.” Gov­ern­ment troops con­tinue to search Olango Is­land for two men be­lieved to be armed.

Gov­ern­ment troops con­tin­ued to search for two armed men spot­ted along the beach lines of Barangay San Vi­cente on Olango Is­land on Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

Soldiers and po­lice forces con­ducted clear­ing op­er­a­tions, but un­til 5 p.m. yes­ter­day, the search proved neg­a­tive.

Pa­trolling army and navy per­son­nel were pulled out yes­ter­day af­ter­noon.

Barangay Cap­tain Cyrus Eyas said the sight­ings and the pres­ence of gov­ern­ment troop­ers cre­ated fear es­pe­cially among res­i­dents of Si­tios Bas­daku and Basku­ral where the two armed men were re­port­edly seen.

Evac­u­ate

At least 25 fam­i­lies from Si­tio Bas­daku, con­sist­ing mostly of chil­dren, evac­u­ated to the nearby Sta. Rosa El­e­men­tary School at 9 p.m. on Thurs­day and spent the night there.

They started re­turn­ing to their homes at 5 a.m. on Friday.

“The res­i­dents were very scared,” said Eyas.

He raised the pos­si­bil­ity that the two were mem­bers of the ban­dit Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) who were be­ing hunted down in In­a­banga town in Bo­hol af­ter en­gag­ing gov­ern­ment troops in in­tense gun­fire last week.

In­a­banga is lo­cated across Olango Is­land and is a lit­tle over an hour’s travel by pump­boat.

“We sus­pect that the two were look­ing for medicines and food,” said Eyas.

But he ad­mit­ted that the search for the two armed men will not be easy be­cause they could be hiding in the 1,100hectare man­grove for­est at the bird sanc­tu­ary in San Vi­cente.

There is even a pos­si­bil­ity that they left the is­land on Thurs­day night.

The po­lice of­fices of the cities of Man­daue and Cebu sent two teams to aug- ment the Lapu-Lapu po­lice who joined the op­er­a­tions on Olango Is­land.

Sight­ing

A fe­male res­i­dent iden­ti­fied as Er­linda Ta­neo, who lives near the bound­ary of Si­tios Bas­daku and Basku­ral, claimed see­ing two armed men at about 1 p.m. on Thurs­day.

The res­i­dent, Eyas said, was sup­posed to re­spond to the call of na­ture when she saw the two men about 20 me­ters away.

They wore jack­ets and car­ried back­packs and long firearms.

A piece of cloth cov­ered their faces ex­cept for the eyes.

“One man ap­peared to be weak be­cause he was be­ing sup­ported by his com­pan­ion while walk­ing,” said Eyas.

Alarmed, the fe­male res­i­dent im­me­di­ately re­ported what she saw to vil­lage of­fi­cials in the barangay hall.

Eyas said they then called for po­lice as­sis­tance.

Two hours later, around 20 gov­ern­ment troop­ers from the Philip­pine Navy, Philip­pine Army and Spe­cial Weapons and Tac­tics (SWAT) ar­rived at Barangay San Vi­cente around 3 p.m.

Bursts of gun fire were heard shortly af­ter their ar­rival.

Eyas said SWAT per­son­nel also found late on Thurs­day af­ter­noon a tem­po­rary shel­ter set up in a forested area lo­cated close to the bird sanc­tu­ary’s man­grove area.

The shel­ter had a ham­mock and rice sacks used as im­pro­vised sleep­ing mats. Wa­ter bot­tles, empty cans and dried fish were also found in the area.

“Mu rag na ayn ipahu way anang lug ara ,” Eyas said.

Other re­ports

Eyas said that aside from the two armed men, they are also look­ing into re­ports that at least four more men roamed the nearby barangay of Sa­bang on Olango Is­land at noon­time on Thurs­day, at least an hour be­fore Ta­neo saw the two armed men on the coastal area of Si­tios Bas­daku and Basku­ral.

Sa­bang is lo­cated a barangay away from San Vi­cente, next to Barangay Sta. Rosa.

Eyas said he re­ceived a text mes­sage yes­ter­day in­form­ing him that five men whose faces were cov­ered with cloth and who were car­ry­ing back­packs vis­ited the sari-sari store of Si­tio Tubu­ran, Barangay Sa­bang, res­i­dent Aida Patig­das to ask for money and food.

Patig­das is a San Vi­cente na­tive who mar­ried a Barangay Sa­bang res­i­dent.

The store’s care­taker told the men that store owner Patig­das was still tak­ing a bath. Un­able to wait longer, the men left.

“Dili lang klaro ug ara­mado ba sad tong mga tawhana kay wala may nakit-an nga ar­mas ang mga taw,” said Eyas.

Eyas said that when the group of five men passed by an­other store sell­ing puto, they took the food with­out pay­ing for it.

Mem­bers of the SubaOlango Eco-Tour As­so­ci­a­tion also saw sus­pi­cious­look­ing men while they were pick­ing man­grove propag­ules at the bird sanc­tu­ary last week.

The two other sight­ings were only re­ported to au­thor­i­ties af­ter gov­ern­ment troops en­tered the is­land on Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO/LAPU-LAPU CITY PO­LICE OF­FICE

A Spe­cial Weapons and Tac­tics (SWAT) team of the Lapu-Lapu City Po­lice Of­fice (LLCPO) is sent to Olango Is­land to pa­trol the sea and to serve as a block­ing force fol­low­ing re­ports of a sight­ing of two armed men on the is­land.

CDN PHOTO/NOR­MAN MEN­DOZA

A SWAT team searches for armed per­sons re­port­edly sighted by a res­i­dent at a man­grove for­est in Barangay San Vi­cente, Olango Is­land, and find mats and traces of food be­lieved to be­long to the armed per­sons.

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