A “habal-habal” or motorcycle-for-hire driver who alerted the police on the presence of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members in the hinterlands of Clarin on Saturday has been placed under police protection, an official said Tuesday.
â€He is very important to us. We have to protect him. He helped us in neutralizing the Abu Sayyaf in Bohol,â€ said Chief Supt. Noli Talino, Police Regional Office 7 director.
Talino did not reveal the identity of the informant for security reasons.
The information given by the habal-habal driver led government troops to the hiding place of the suspected ASG members in Barangay Bacane, Clarin town.
They were the remnants of the group that clashed on April 11 with government troops in Sitio Ilaya, Barangay Napo, Inabanga, resulting in the death of five suspected ASG members, three soldiers and a policeman.
A clash that started Saturday noon resulted in the death of Joselito Melloria, an Inabanga, Bohol native who was tagged as the groupâ€™s guide in infiltrating Inabanga.
Three other unidentified ASG members were killed later on Saturday night.
Police accounts said the habal-habal driver was hired by three foul-smelling men who asked to be taken to any bakery to buy bread.
He suspected them to be part of the group that clashed with government troops in Inabanga town and he alerted the police after his services to the three men.
In Cebu City, Mayor Tomas OsmeÃ±a said he is willing to give a PHP100,000 reward to the habal-habal driver, but only if the municipal government of Clarin will not do so.
Earlier, Governor Edgar Chatto said that Boholanos’ concern for the province’s safety has been the primary factor in their active participation in the government’s continued search for the ASG stragglers.
However, Chatto alsoÂ acknowledged President Duterte’s initiative to offer a P1-million bounty for the hastened capture of each of the bandits.
“We believe that people’s volunteerism in providing quick and accurate information leadingÂ to the arrest of criminals deserves commendation, praise and reward,” he said. (EB/PNA)
(minor edits have been made by The Bohol Chronicle)