TAGBILARAN CITY, April 18 (PIA)–The remnants of the armed bandits the joint police and military operatives encountered in Inabanga are demoralized, on the run without any support system, and it may not be long before the government troops get to them.
Thus hinted Lieutenant Colonel Adolfo Espuelas Jr, speaking for the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) during a press briefing with the military and the police on the Inabanga incident.
Last April 11, government troops acted upon information from the community in Napo and attempted to confirm the presence of at least 12 armed men, who came up river on three small but fast boats.
The bandits welcomed the troops with sniping fire, that a trading of gunfire ensued which lasted for over 24 hours.
The government used air assets, dropped 10 bombs and helicopter fire to flash out the snipers in well entrenched spots.
When the smoke of gunfight settled, the government lost three soldiers and a special weapons expert while the military declared five body counts from the enemies, including the alleged leader of the group Abu Rami.
Military authorities also recovered one Colt M4 Rifle with long magazine and 28 ammunitions, one M16 A1, one AR Cal 223, one M16 A1 Rifle with short magazine and twenty live ammo, one calibre 45, one M203 ammo, two short housing magazine assembly.
Also recovered were one galva tester (electronic current tester), one Icom radio, one flashlight, two remote control radio, two surgical forceps, five Kuran (Muslim bibles), one electric soldering gun, 27 glue sticks, one electric cutter, one pair of scissors, one small screw driver, led component, 22 silicon control rectifiers (for electronic power control), four 12 volt relays, eight slide switches, 86 led lights, 46 resistors, three cellphone batteries, one nine volts battery, ten Christmas light bulbs and three pump boats.
The discovery bolstered the intelligence reports that the group were to do bombing operations.
Two of those who died were a couple who owned the house where the armed bandits.
Military sources later said some 7 armed men may have escaped the onslaught but are still contained in the nearby barangays.
A day later, during mopping up operations, military troops dug up another corpse which later was pegged as the bandit’s bomb expert.
While frightened Boholanos shared hundreds of information on social media about the incident, Governor Edgar Chatto called for vigilance and pleaded to pass any information to authorities so they can handle the analysis.
Even if you have good intentions but do not have the basis for sharing information, do not make conclusions and do not pass it on. You are not helping, Chatto was quoted by his media group the Effective Development Communications (EDCOM).
But as the days went on with the military troops tracking the stragglers, Col Espuelas said the enemies are in no fighting mood and their priority is escaping.
“The firefight has expended most of their ammunition and they have lost the capacity to inflict any more damage,” he said.
On or about 1:00 PM of April 12, residents have confirmed the presence of 7 armed bandits begging for food in the vicinity of the encounter area, and days later, witnesses reportedly saw the same armed men, emaciated, three of them wounded, including their local contact Joselito Meloria, who nursed a wound in the back of the shoulder.
They have no food, they are in a hostile territory unlike in Sulu or Basilan when they have supporters, and Boholanos are reporting their whereabouts, Col Espuelas commented.
“It might not be long, as government troops continue to scour the area,” he added.
Bohol authorities have confirmed that a concerned citizen has put up a bounty of P100,000 for each of the bandits, the reward money to be given to anyone who could provide information leading to the arrest and neutralization of any of the stragglers. (rac/PIA-7/Bohol)