Thursday , May 24, 2018

On the lookout for Abu Sayyaf abettors

THE Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG)-Central Visayas has been tasked to gather evidence and analyze the clash between government forces and Abu Sayyaf members in Sitio Ilaya, Barangay Napo, Inabanga, Bohol last April 11.

Chief Inspector Hector Amancia, deputy chief of the CIDG-Central Visayas, said that a team from CIDG Bohol is collecting evidence and looking for possible accomplices of the Abu Sayyaf.

"We are looking into a possibility that some locals were involved in helping the Abu Sayyaf," Amancia said.

Joselito Melloria, a local, is a person of interest after he allegedly brought Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Abu Rami and 10 others to Inabanga.

"I cannot confirm as of this time if Joselito's mother is already in the custody of the police, but there are unconfirmed reports that she is," Amancia said, referring to Norma Melloria.

Establishing proof

The death of Constancio and Crisanta Petalco, an elderly couple believed to have been killed in the crossfire, is still being investigated.

"We will make sure that justice will be served," he said.

The CIDG team, which is coordinating with Scene of the Crime Operatives during the processing of the casualties, is scouting for witnesses and forwarding evidence for the forensic investigation.

In an earlier interview, Major General Oscar Lactao, Central Command commander, and Police Regional Office-Central Visayas Director Noli Taliño said that they will send a specimen from the body of sub-leader Abu Rami to confirm his identity.

More than 10 heavily-armed men headed by Rami and guided by Melloria docked in the Inabanga River early morning of April 11 and engaged authorities in a firefight.

In the wake of the foiled plan of the terror group to set camp in Inabanga, the military and police confiscated one M4 rifle, three M16 rifles, an AR .223, one .45 Norinco BB, three detonating cords, one galva tester, one radio, two remote control radios, 49 blasting caps, one blasting cap with cord, two surgical forceps, one plastic container with Improvised Explosive Device (IED) accessories and switch, three pump boats and five Korans, among others.

A black Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) flag was also recovered from the scene.

"We are still establishing the evidence to see whether they (the group) really are supported by the ISIS," a military source, who asked not to be named, said.

Still in Inabanga

The CIDG will also check the devices and equipments used to make IED bombs.

The military is still going after Melloria, who has different aliases including Alih, Richard, Asis, Ubayda, Poy, Dah, Saada and Um Amra.

The government side lost Second Lieutenant Estilito Saldua, Sergeant John Dexter Duero, Police Officer 2 Rey Anthony Nazareno and Corp. Meljune Cajaban. The four slain Abu Sayyaf members were identified as sub-leader Mouamar Askali alias Abu Rami; Abu Sufyan, a bomb expert; Edimar Isnain; and an unidentified armed man.

Military officials said the remaining eight Abu Sayyaf members are still in Inabanga. Residents are evacuated at night to keep them safe.

Pictures of Melloria were distributed to evacuees so they can report any sightings of the group.

Melloria is viewed as an important person in the group because he continues to guide them in the dense forest and low lying terrain of Inabanga.

He married a woman, who is a native of Zamboanga City and whose father was reportedly an ex-commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.