Suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits have reportedly been spotted in two different areas in the province including Trinidad and Clarin since Tuesday.
Provincial Board Member Ricky Masamayor, chair of the PBâ€™s committee on peace and order, said on Friday that the sightings were reported by the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG), a composite team of cops from various police divisions.
Based on information gathered by the SITGâ€™s intelligence network, a suspected ASG straggler was seen in Barangay Cantuyok, Clarin at 7 a.m. on April 28.
On Tuesday, two men believed to be members of the militant group were reportedly spotted in Trinidad as they alighted a Southern Star bus at the Trinidad Bus Terminal at 3 p.m.
However, the sightings have not yet been confirmed by the military as the Armyâ€™s 302nd Brigade only made public a report of a farmer in Buenos Aires, Tubigon who reportedly saw an ASG straggler.
According to the army brigadeâ€™s spokesperson Capt. Jojo Mascarinas, the suspected bandit was sighted wearing fresh clothes and had asked the villager for food and slippers on Wednesday.
Out of fear, the farmer reportedly obliged as he also noted that the alleged ASG militant took coconuts before hastily leaving while avoiding passing through the main road.
MascariÃ±as did not identify the farmer for security purposes.
Buenos Aires is near the Clarin border where the latest encounter between the band of militants and government troops erupted last Saturday.
Four ASG men were killed in the firefight including the groupâ€™s guide, Bohol native Joselito Melloria. Their deaths cut down the number of bandits to three.
In a previous military report, it was indicated that the three remaining bandits only have one firearm in their possession.
However, MascariÃ±as noted that bandits may have left that firearm so they could easily blend in with villagers.
He also noted that the stragglers may have been separated following the clash in Clarin.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines had disclosed that the remaining militants are merely fighting for survival and no longer pose threat. (Rey Tutas)