The 302nd Brigade of the Philippine Army has not confirmed a report which recently surfaced indicating that there are only two, not three, Abu Sayyaf bandits left in Bohol following the encounter in Clarin on Saturday.
According to Capt. Jojo MascariÃ±as, spokesperson of the Philippine Armyâ€™s 302nd Brigade, the only way to verify the third banditâ€™s death is to locate his lifeless body.
On Tuesday, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said in a press briefing in Malacanang that one of the three remaining militants in the province had succumbed to complications due to hunger and fatigue.
The ASG member had also reportedly sustained a gunshot wound in his back.
MascariÃ±as pointed out that they are the ones conducting ground operations and would have been the first to know had there been another ASG casualty.
The remaining stragglers are believed to still be in Clarin, the last clash site between army troops and the bandits, and are likely to have been separated, said MascariÃ±as.
It is possible that the ASG men are no longer armed, he added.
However, the army official noted that the bandits may have left their firearms and changed clothes to easily blend in with villagers in the area.
Meanwhile, one ASG militant identified as â€œUbaydaâ€ was reportedly spotted near the Clarin-Tubigon boundary, said MascariÃ±as.
The bandit was seen by a farmer whose identity was not revealed by the army official for security reasons.
According to the villager’s report, the ASG straggler asked for food and took coconuts from a tree before hurriedly leaving with his slippers.
The military is also investigating the reported escape of ASG contact â€œYusofâ€ who had allegedly boarded a boat for Cagayan De Oro City from Jagna. (Allen Doydora)