Rody: P1-M bounty per bandit
MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte yesterday offered a P1-million bounty for each Abu Sayyaf bandit who attacked government troops in Inabanga, Bohol.
Duterte also bared plans to arm civilians against terrorists and drug lords.
The President ordered security forces to produce “dead or alive” the six or seven Abu Sayyaf gunmen who managed to evade government forces during the clashes in Inabanga last week.
He promised to pardon civilians who would help in tracking down the bandits.
“My order to the police and to everyone and even to the civilians… they should fight and kill. My order is dead or alive. If there are six (bandits), maybe scouring the safety nets, wherever they can land, I have P1-million offer per person,” Duterte said after a security briefing in Bohol.
“I intend to also arm the civilians. And I will include the civilians… if you kill somebody… you just go to the police and make the report and state your truth… no problem, I will take care of you. And pardon you for whatever,” he added.
Duterte said the manhunt also covers drug addicts, whom he described as paranoid and capable of fighting back.
“My enemies here are drugs and terrorists. Drug addicts have weapons. Ask any policeman or mayor. They really have that. If they say that the firearms were planted, that’s not true. Almost all of them are really paranoid,” he said.
While his order to security forces was to produce terrorists and drug personalities dead or alive, Duterte said he would prefer to see them dead.
“I encourage civilians also to kill, because it’s dead or alive man, there is reward. But I would I prefer them dead. If they are produced alive, I would have to feed them and that would be costly,” he said.
Duterte also encouraged civilians to provide tips about the whereabouts of terrorists.
“No questions asked. We’ll not even give you names. Just tell them where they are and the government will take care of the rest,” he said.
Duterte warned he might “invade” Jolo, the island province stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf to “finish the game.”
He was asked when he thinks the Abu Sayyaf menace in Bohol would end. Duterte said: “Well, I hope it would not reach that point where we have to choose the last option.
“If that happens, I will maybe invade Jolo. It will really be invasion. But many civilians will be harmed including children. But if the nation is placed in jeopardy, I will order the invasion of Jolo,” he said.
The military said the P1-million bounty for each Abu Sayyaf militant would help expedite their arrest.
“Hopefully, this will encourage informants and other citizens to help expedite the arrest of these bandits,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said.
Five Abu Sayyaf militants, three soldiers and a policeman were killed after the local terrorist group attacked government forces in Inabanga on April 11.
Among those killed was Abu Sayyaf sub-commander Muamar Askali, alias Abu Rami, who was reportedly involved in the beheading of two Canadians and a German hostage.
Reports said there are as many as eight militants who managed to escape during the firefight in Inabanga.
Two of them reportedly were their local contacts from Barangay Napo of the town.
“Even ordinary people in Bohol will have an interest to track these Abu Sayyaf bandits because of the reward,” said Capt. Jojo Mascarenas, spokesman for the Army’s 302nd Brigade based in Bohol.
Mascarenas, however, warned bounty hunters to be cautious as the bandits are heavily armed.
Mascarenas said the bandits are still in Bohol but their capability to push through their plan to kidnap was diminished following the killing of their leader.
‘Finish the game’
The clash erupted after residents in Inabanga tipped off authorities about the arrival of armed men on boats.
The incident was highly significant, coming during Holy Week at a location far from Abu Sayyaf’s traditional field of operations on remote Jolo, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan islands. Duterte stressed the Abu Sayyaf must not be allowed to extend its reach.
“I said, rather than wait for another day for them to do it again, I told the military and the police, finish the game,” he added.
The clashes occurred as the Philippines is preparing to host the ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings on April 26 to 29.
Officials said security measures are in place to thwart any attempt to disrupt the international event, which is expected to be attended by nine Southeast Asian heads of state.
“We can always make the projection that they were there to spoil the ASEAN… not only spoil, but to create a disaster for all of us,” Duterte said.
The military has revealed how a single document recovered from the Abu Sayyaf thwarted the militants’ plan to kidnap in Bohol.
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., chief of Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said troops stumbled on the document from a suspected Abu Sayyaf lair during one of its operations weeks ago in Maimbung, Sulu.
The same information from the documents recovered led them to the plot of Abu Rami.
Galvez said the document detailed the Abu Sayyaf plot to raid selected targets in the Visayas and other areas outside Western and Central Mindanao.
“In one of our operations in Maimbung, we recovered several documents (from the Abu Sayyaf) and exploited it,” he said.
Galvez said troops raided a suspected Abu Sayyaf camp in remote Barangay Ipil, Maimbung town.
The troops surprised the Abu Sayyaf, killing 16 of the militants, including the wife of Abu Sayyaf subleader Jihad Idang Susukan and Aktar Susukan.
“And one of those documents (recovered) was casing on the areas in the Visayas and also other areas outside the AOR (area of operation) of Westmincom,” Galvez said.
He said the information was immediately relayed to the AFP high command.
“We issued an alert memo since April 6 and 7 that somebody left Sulu and we don’t know where they’re heading to,” Galvez said.
Galvez said this led AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año to issue the alert for all the units to be vigilant during the Lenten season.
Since the information from the document of the Abu Sayyaf was in the general location of the Visayas region, all the unified commands were alerted about the plot of the terror group.
The intelligence information also led the military to track down the possible movements of the Abu Sayyaf until it led them to a village in Inabanga where at least six members of the bandit group, including Askali, were killed during clashes with government forces.
Galvez said they did not leak the information about the recovery until the last hour.
“Even if we look stupid for not revealing the information, so be it. The point is the operation was successful, we were able to thwart the plan of the Abu Sayyaf like Muamar Askali to create havoc in the Visayas and we are happy because our information was not burned out,” Galvez said.
He also confirmed another Abu Sayyaf leader, Al-habsy Misaya, and his group also left Sulu.
Galvez declined to provide details on the movement of the Abu Sayyaf but gave assurance that security operations were being conducted to thwart any plot of the group.
“On Misaya, again we cannot divulge operational matters, but like what happened to Muamar Askali, he and his group will be dealt with lethally. Hopefully, just like what AFP chief said, we will put an end to this up to the last man of the Abu Sayyaf,” Galvez added.
On the other hand, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said a ranking Abu Sayyaf leader has sent surrender feelers to the government.
Dureza did not name the Abu Sayyaf leader but said the government has already started sending people to deal with him.
“There are feelers, verifications. All I know is that he had already indicated that he wants to live peacefully,” Dureza told a news forum in Makati yesterday.
“As a matter of fact, there are initiatives that are being made by the military, and on our side, we are also sending people to deal with him,” he added.
Although Dureza begged off from naming the Abu Sayyaf leader citing operational concerns, it was earlier reported that one-armed bandit leader Radulan Sahiron wanted to give up because of his age.
Galvez had said elderly Muslim leaders have relayed to him the surrender plan of the bandit leader.
Sahiron, a one-armed bandit, is the most senior Abu Sayyaf leader based in Sulu. He is wanted by the US government, which has offered a $1-million bounty, for the kidnapping and killing of American Jeffry Schilling in the late 1990s in Sulu.
Galvez said Sahiron reportedly set some conditions for his surrender, including that he not be handed over to the US government.
Sahiron reportedly wanted the Philippine government to handle the cases against him.
Galvez believed Sahiron wanted to surrender due to old age and has gotten tired of being on the run from government forces. –Jaime Laude, Roel Pareño, Robertzon Ramirez