CEBU CITY: “Their days are numbered.”
Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Thursday issued this warning after President Duterte offered a P1 million dead-or-alive bounty for every Abu Sayyaf member still in the mountains of Inabanga town, Bohol province.
He told reporters here past midnight that the cash reward dangled by Duterte would be a big help in catching the remaining members of the bandit group.
“People will really look for them,” he said.
Dela Rosa arrived from Bohol to attend a security briefing with Duterte and to visit the wake in Calape town of SPO2 Rey Anthony Nazareno who was among four government troopers killed in the gunfight with ASG members in Inabanga last week.
He then proceeded to Cebu City to catch an early morning flight to Manila since there was no available flight in Tagbilaran City.
At least 10 Abu Sayyaf members entered the remote village of Napo in Inabanga town on board three motorboats on April 10.
The police, who were tipped off about their presence, immediately informed the military. A gun battle ensued that involved at least 10 air strikes.
Killed in the gunfight were four Abu Sayyaf members, including their leader Abu Rami, two couple in their 60s, three soldiers and a policeman.
The government troops are still hunting down at least eight others, including Joselito Milloria, a native of Napo who aided the bandit group in entering the village.
In an interview late Wednesday afternoon, Duterte said the Abu Sayyaf went to Bohol to spoil the meetings for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in Panglao town which started on Thursday.
“I encourage civilians to kill,” the President said as he offered P1 million for every captured Abu Sayyaf member — dead or alive — in Inabanga town, Bohol.
“But I prefer them dead because if they are alive, I will still have to feed them,” he said.
Duterte said Abu Sayyaf members usually have local contacts in the area they go to, most of them were criminals.
They would then conduct kidnapping activities and hand their victims to another group until they reach their base in Jolo where negotiations would be made, he said.
Duterte did not elaborate on how to arm civilians.
“I’m not at liberty because I have to talk to the local officials, they might have some objections,” he said.
The President also advised the navy to bomb bandits if found in the sea.
“My order to the Navy, if positive, blow them up. No need for them to surrender. Fire a cannon at them. Destroy them,” he said.
He said that if there was a need to finish the bandit group, he would invade Jolo.
“I will invade Jolo. This will be an invasion. But many will get hurt — civilians, children. If our country will be in danger, I will order an invasion of Jolo. The army, the military, will go there. It they want a fierce fight, I will give them one,” he said. - Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network