A Philippine Army official on Tuesday admitted that finding the remaining Abu Sayyaf stragglers in Bohol is a difficult task, over two weeks after the last clash between security forces and remaining bandits in the province.
According to Lt. Col. Dodjie Belloga, commander of the armyâ€™s 47th Infantry Battalion, there are many possible hiding areas in Bohol including the provinceâ€™s numerous caves.
Belloga said that the remaining terrorists are likely to hide in these caves as they rest.
Two weeks ago, four bandits including Boholano ASG member Joselito Melloria were gunned down in an encounter near a cave in Barangay Bacani, Clarin where they were believed to have been hiding.
For its part, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau had previously told Clarin Mayor Allen Ray Piezas that there are seven caves in the town.
Authorities also noted that around 1,400 caves, or an average of 30 caves in each of Boholâ€™s 47 towns, can be found across the province earning it one of its nicknames, â€œCave Country.â€
Meanwhile, it is possible that the bandits have been moving in plain sight with different clothes which could make it difficult for authorities or villagers to identify them, said Bellloga.
However, the army official denied claims that the remaining bandits have already fled the province where security forces continue to hunt them down.
There are three remaining Abu Sayyaf militants left in Bohol, according to latest military reports.
They were reportedly last spotted in the towns of Clarin and Tubigon, said Belloga.
One man believed to be an ASG extremist was reportedly spotted by a farmer in Tubigon on Wednesday last week while the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG), a composite team of cops from various police divisions, said that a suspected bandit was seen in Barangay Cantuyok, Clarin at 7 a.m. on April 28 based on reports gathered by its intelligence network. (R. Tutas)