A total of P100,000 has been offered for information that would lead to the capture of each Abu Sayyaf member who survived the clash between the bandit group and government security forces on Tuesday last week.
The amount offered for the arrest of the eight remaining Abu Sayyaf bandits was raised by a â€œconcerned citizen,â€ said Philippine Army Col. Adolfo Espuelas Jr. during a press briefing in Tagbilaran City on Monday.
According to Espuelas, the militants are now believed to be hiding in villages near Barangay Napo in Inabanga where the encounter took place.
They are being led by Joselito Melloria who is allegedly the Mindanao-based militants’ contact in Bohol, he added.
Based on accounts reported by villagers, the band of Abu Sayyaf men attempted to flee towards Clarin and Sagbayan towns but were deterred by heavy police and military presence in the areas.
Residents in towns particularly those near the shores of Buenavista and Clarin have also been alerted as the bandits are expected to escape through coastal areas in or near Inabanga, according to a military intelligence report.
However, threat from the bandits has significantly diminished as they no longer possess enough firepower to go against government troops.
For his part, Governor Edgar Chatto echoed previous statements by officials of government security agencies noting that it is once again safe to travel to Bohol.
The incident was isolated in an area in Inabanga town and it did not affect the rest of the province, said Chatto during the same press conference.
Still, the governor urged the public to remain vigilant and report to authorities suspicious activities and personalities.
Meanwhile, police and military elements continue to implement intensified security measures throughout the province, particularly in coastal areas. (Rey Tutas and Weli Maestrado)