Village kids’ role in thwarting Abu Sayyaf in Bohol

In the wake of the clash between suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits and government troopers, the vigilance of Boholanos drew the limelight as it took away the element of surprise from the militants who sneaked into the remote village of Napo in Inabanga earlier this week.

But how exactly did residents of the far-flung barangay help in thwarting the purported kidnap plans of the Al-Queda-linked terrorist group?

According to village chief Columbo Estoce, it was a group of children playing near a river crossing Sitio Ilaya in the small barangay that first spotted three pumpboats carrying armed men early on Sunday.

One boat had four men on board while the rest had three each, he said.

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“When they arrived, their guns and ammunition were wet probably from their voyage at sea,” said Estoce. “They disassembled their weapons and put them out to dry which kids in the village saw.”

The children then reported the sighting of the armed men to their parents who passed on the information to authorities including Estoce.

This prompted joint operatives of the local police and the army to intercept the armed men leading to the almost daylong gun battle between government troops and the militants which started at dawn on Tuesday.

The intense firefight left at least five suspected bandits dead including their leader Muamar Askali, alias “Abu Rami,” as confirmed by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Eduardo Año.

Following the clash on Tuesday, both the Philippine National Police (PNP) and AFP praised the vigilance of Boholanos.

“The government security forces simply reinforced the vigilance of Boholanos who organized themselves to a strong force to keep the province safe from any threat group,” said a statement signed by Central Visayas police director Chief Supt. Noli Taliño and AFP Central Command chief Lt. Gen. Oscar Lactao.

In a televised press briefing, Lactao also deemed Bohol as “the safest place on Earth” after the bandit group was thwarted in carrying out terrorist activities which he partly attributed to the vigilance of residents.

“Terrorism is a threat not only in the Philippines but also in the rest of world, so we have to deal with it,” said Lactao. “As I’ve observed, the best defense against terrorism is resiliency of our community and local government.” (Allen Doydora)



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