PNP denies Abu Sayyaf presence in Negros Oriental

DUMAGUETE CITY -- The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Negros Oriental debunked reports on Thursday that members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) have reached the shores of Dauin, a town located south of this capital and brimming with tourists.

The 79th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army has released the names and description of Abu Sayyaf members in Inabanga, Bohol still "on the run" to alert the public.

Acting Provincial Police Director Senior Superintendent Henry Biñas said there were enough troops to secure the resorts in Dauin and nearby areas, especially the world-renowned dive destination Apo Island.

Biñas gave the reassurance following false reports spreading on social media that Abu Sayyaf members were arrested in Dauin.

Dauin has the bulk of tourists in the entire province, and has the most number of resorts as well.

Government forces have reassured of tight security especially in Apo Island, after it was identified as among the Abu Sayyaf’s target areas in the Visayas.

Biñas urged the public to not circulate false or unverified information about the Abu Sayyaf as it will cause unnecessary panic.

Additional Philippine Army troops, members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat), and the Provincial Public Safety Company of the Negros Oriental PNP provincial office have been deployed to Dauin to conduct routine patrols, he said.

Biñas also denied previous reports of Abu Sayyaf being arrested in Dumaguete, the capital of Negros Oriental.

"It is good for the people to be vigilant but they must also be responsible in filtering out information before sharing it on social media, especially when authorities have not verified it yet," Biñas added.

The military is asking the public to report to the nearest police station or to any government authority if there are sightings of armed men who might fit the description of alleged Abu Sayyaf members who figured in the Inabanga, Bohol clash.

The Army battalion said this is based on the revelations of a resident in Bohol who was “temporarily captured” by the ASG.

The description of the alleged Abu Sayyaf bandits still believed to be hiding in Bohol are as follows:

Joselito Melloria, wearing sweatshirt colored fatigue, wounded on left back shoulder and left foot, with an M-16 rifle with two long magazines and M203 grenade launcher with undetermined number of rounds.

Identified only as a certain Richard, (in the gallery), carrying an M14 rifle with numerous rounds of ammunition, semi-bald, wearing black T-shirt, not wounded.

Identified only as a certain Asis (in the gallery), no firearms, carrying a sling bag, has a cellphone (analog) with reserved battery, money, wearing a black jacket and not wounded.

One person aged at least 18, has wound on right leg, bald and carrying an M16 rifle.

Another person also aged 18, with no firearm and has wound on right butt portion.

And two other persons without firearms aged at least 18.

Any information leading to the whereabouts of these suspected Abu Sayyaf members are asked to be forwarded to the nearest police station or to call the 79th IB hotline numbers 09481469257 and 09556996981. (PNA)