Just as earlier lobbied, government forces will investigate the “red carpet” hospitality to the 11 Abu Sayyaf members discreetly laid down for their arrival on April 10.
Liza Quirog, coordinator for Capitol’s Socio-Economic and Environmental Management (SEEM) Cluster, suspected Joselito Melloria- -the native of sitio Ilaya in barangay Napo, Inabanga who brought 10 of his ASG comrades on April 10- -must have tapped some conduits in preparing for bandits’ arrival days prior to their arrival.
Quirog noticed during the clearing operation in Inabanga that the vicinity around the house where Melloria and his ASG comrades had camped had been plowed.
Now that all the ASG members who came with Melloria were all neutralized, she pushes that the military and the police should investigate what transpired between Melloria and some of the individuals he had contacted prior to the detection of his involvement with the extremist group.
Quirog said she noticed that a few days before Melloria and his ASG comrades arrived, the area surrounding the house where they had camped and two other houses belonging to his relatives had been plowed as if in preparation for rice planting season.
The plowing of the around 100 square-meter field surrounding Melloria’s house where the bandits had camped was done at the onset of the dry season or when summer had just begun. It seemed that all the while that neighbors thought it was just a farmer’s routine turned out to be a tactical preparation against a military attack.
In fact, the newly cleared bushy area around the bandits’ shield house proved to be a factor in the difficulty on the part of the government troops to get closer for a supposed powerhouse swoop-down, according to Quirog.
This shows that Melloria coordinated with some individuals to have the area prepared, possibly telling them reasons other than an ASG operation.
Melloria might have some sympathizers for his illegal activities or he might have deceived some individuals into believing some kind of stories to convince that the area should be cleared and it should be done prior to April 10.
Quirog also learned that some residents of sitio Ilaya had actually seen some armed men arriving in the area and they just ignored their presence, thinking they were undercover agents of law enforcement agencies tasked to implement Oplan Tokhang in Bohol.
However, by the time Melloria came back with the armed men on April 10, the residents were already on alert since Gov. Edgar Chatto already sent an advisory weeks earlier to pre-empt any peace and order concerns related to the Holy Week and the ASEAN Summit hosting.
They became more alert when Chatto reiterated the advisory after the US embassy advisory to its nationals to avoid Bohol and Cebu which hinted of security concerns.
Moreover, it also surprised the residents why the armed men would still be around when the nationwide implementation Oplan Tokhang has been toned down, according to Quirog.
Quirog also learned that at the time of the operation, the government troops still had no idea they were dealing with ASG until sniper’s shots claimed four from the government side on the firefight salvo.
Killed in Action (KIA) were 2nd Lt. Estilito Saldua Jr., Cpl. Miljune Cajaban, Sgt. John Dexter Duero- -of the Armed Force of the Philippines, and PO2 Rey Anthony Nazareno- -who had just completed SWAT training in the last week of February. Wounded in Action (WIA) was Cpl. Cris Jude Porlas.
On the other hand, Quirog made it clear that the video uploaded on the Facebook account of Duterte 2016 Bohol Movement on May 13 captioned as the video from a cellphone of one of the ASG men killed in Bohol was not taken during the encounter in barangay Napo.
The description of the uploaded video stated that it was taken during the encounter in barangay Napo, Inabanga.
Quirog categorically said that the background of the video was not the actual scene of the encounter in barangay Napo because it shows bushes and shrubs, while the encounter area in barangay Napo was already cleared days prior to the encounter on April 11.
The plants shown in the video were not also present at the encounter area which she herself had checked right after the encounter, together with Gov. Edgar Chatto, Provincial Administrator Ae Damalerio, Mayor Roygie Jumamoy, the military clearing team and other officials.
Quirog even furnished the Chronicle with photos and videos of the encounter site in barangay Napo.