Bohol celebrates heroism of gov’t troops a year after foiled Abu attack
INABANGA TOWN, Bohol – It is like looking glass either half empty or half full.
Instead of just forgetting it, the Bohol provincial government officials chose to commemorate on Wednesday the attempt of Abu Sayyaf bandit group to seize the province last year which killed three Army soldiers, a policeman and two civilians, and displaced hundreds of families during the firefight that lasted for a month and spanned three towns.
Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto explained they were celebrating, not the entry of the Abu Sayyaf, but the heroism shown by the government troops who were relentless in hunting down the bandit group until all 11 were killed as well as the community involvement that enabled authorities to learn about their entry.
“We are celebrating the positive value of heroism that was showcased because of that challenge. It is something worth remembering. It is something worth celebrating,” he told the Inquirer on Wednesday.
Chatto led the ceremony that commemorated the first anniversary of the attempt of the bandit group to establish a base in Inabanga where they planned to launch kidnapping and terrorism activities in nearby provinces.
Members of the Inabanga Theatre Group held a dance drama that reenacted the events of April 11, 2017 when 11 men on board three kumpits (two-engine motorboats) arrived in Barangay Napo, Inabanga.
The children saw the group who were led by Napo native Joselito Melloria as well as high-powered firearms with “bullets as big as corn ears.”
They told their parents who then passed the information to the village officials who then told the police about the presence of the militants.
Combined forces of the police and Army arrived and a firefight ensued –something that was not seen in Bohol despite the presence of communist insurgents in some towns.
Residents of Napo and nearby villages fled as the Philippine Air Force dropped bombs to flush out the bandits who were in hiding.
Four ASG members including bomb expert Abu Rami were killed during the initial assault. But also killed were three soldiers and one policeman and two civilians.
The seven others fled to nearby Clarin town where Melloria was later killed.
At the height of clash in Clarin, law enforcers arrested Supt. Ma. Cristina Nobleza and her husband Abu Sayyaf bomber Reenor Lou Dungon, Judith Dungon and a minor who allegedly tried to rescue the remaining Abu Sayyaf members.
Hunger prompted one Abu Sayyaf member to surrender in Tubigon town but was killed by police after he allegedly tried to escape from prison.
The last two ASG members were killed in a firefight in Calape town on May 15, 2017, which ended the month-long operation.
The three kumpits used by the bandits as well as the military tanks and weapons used by the government troops were on display in a one-day exhibit outside the municipal gymnasium in Inabanga on Wednesday.
Also launched on Wednesday was SAFE Bohol (Security Always for Everyone: Boholano Bayanihan), a movement inspired by the community involvement that led to the discovery of the Abu Sayyaf presence in Inabanga.
Acting Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, who was the guest of honor, said the vigilance of Boholano community and the military’s tough and focused stance were the reasons why the Abu Sayyaf didn’t succeed.
“Dito sa Inabanga is one ideal example on how the government, the NGOS (nongovernment organizations), the local government enforcement agencies, law enforcement agencies and local populace worked together and defeated the Abu Sayyaf threat,” said Año.
Part of the activities on Wednesday was the launching of the road project that would link Barangays Datag to Napo, Inabanga town and Libertad to Tan-wan in Tubigon town.
Barangay Napo in Inabanga had long been isolated due to the absence of access road that connected it to any existing road. It could only be reached by boat through the Inabanga River or on foot passing through mountainous trails.
Chatto said that with the assistance of Año, they hoped that this project would be completed./ac