2 bodies recovered after Bohol clash not Abu Sayyaf members—villagers
INABANGA, Bohol – Do the five bodies recovered by the military really belong to the bandit group Abu Sayyaf?
Not all, according to residents of remote village of Napo, Inabanga where alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf entered on Monday afternoon and engaged the joint military and police team in heavy gunfight that lasted for more than 24 hours.
Constancio Petalco, 65, and his wife Crisenta were among the bodies recovered by the military in Sitio Ylaya, Barangay Napo, and were identified as suspected Abu Sayyaf members.
But Columbus Estoce, village chief of Napo, said the Petalco couple were residents of their village and were not members of the bandit group.
“They are not members of Abu Sayyaf. They are residents (of the village),” said Estoce in an interview over dyTR News in Tagbilaran City.
When reached for comment, Captain Jojo Mascariñas, spokesman of the 302 Brigade, said the authorities were looking into reports about the incident.
“An investigation will be conducted by the police to identify them and their involvement of the group,” he told Inquirer on the phone.
But since they died in the area where the Abu Sayyaf were spotted, he added the two were tagged as members of the bandit group.
A Facebook post of Ronila Sabijon Kudemos showed the photos of Constancio and another body inside a body bag whom she said were her uncle and aunt.
As she sought justice for the couple, she wrote that the two were held hostage and killed but it was never reported. It was not clear in the post who killed the couple.
The post, however, had 2,727 shares, more than 1,100 reactions and more than 90 comments as of 1:20 p.m. on Thursday.
Petalco was the uncle of Joselito Melloria who was seen by residents escorting at least 10 heavily armed men in the village on Monday afternoon whom he described as his guests.
These were the armed men, who engaged the military and police in a heavy firefight and targets of at least 10 airstrikes.
They were later tagged as members of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group who were suspected of planning to stage terror activities in nearby islands.
The gun battle forced at least 3,000 residents from Napo and neighboring villages to evacuate.
But several residents, including the Petalcos, were seen going back to their house, said Estoce.
Some returned to get their belongings but in the case of Constancio, he went back to get his wife who could not walk properly and was packing their things for the evacuation.
But the two were hit during the crossfire, said the village chief.
“They were just trapped there (in the middle of the heavy gunfire),” he said.
Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, police director for Central Visayas, said on Wednesday that Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Rami was among the five alleged members of the bandit group who were killed in the firefight.
Mascariñas said Joselito Melloria was among the fatalities although like Rami, they had to verify his identity first after processing his body.
Government troops seized high-powered firearms: one M4 rifle, two M16 a1 rifles, 1 caliber .45 Norinco pistol, 1 M203 ammunition and 1 81mm mortar cartridge.
Also recovered in the area were two short housing magazine assembly, 3 detonating cord, 1 galva tester, 1 icom radio, 1 flashlight, 2 remote control radio, 49 blasting caps, 1 blasting cap with cord, 1 flash light, 2 remote control radio, 49 blasting caps, 1 blasting cap with cord, 2 surgical forcep, 1 plastic container, 1 switch board, 5 koran, 1 electric soldering iron, 27 glue stick, 8 IED Assembly, 1 electrical cutter, 1 scissor, 1 small screw driver, 1 LED component, 22 silicon SCR, 4 relay 12 volts, 8 slide switch, 86 red lights, 46 resistors, 3 cellphone battery, 2 pressure clip, 10 Christmas light bulbs, 3 pump boats, and other devices to make bombs. JE
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