TROOPS of the Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi have arrested two Abu Sayyaf bandits involved in a series of robbery in Tawi-Tawi, a military official announced on Thursday, July 27.
Brigadier General Custodio Parcon, Jr., Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi commander, identified the arrested suspects as Merson Arak Garim and Rustom Garim, both members of the Abu Sayyaf Group, based in Panglima Sugala town.
Parcon said the two suspects were arrested while the Marine Battalion Landing Team (MLBT)-Zamboanga Peninsula (Western Mindanao) troops were on combat operations around 5:30 a.m., Wednesday, July 26, in the village of Batu-Batu, Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi.
Parcon said the suspects’ arrest came after the residents have reported the presence of seven Abu Sayyaf bandits and the robbery by the group in the village of Batu-Batu.
Parcon said the troops seized an M-16 (rifle) loaded with ammunition from the two suspects.
He said the Abu Sayyaf bandits resorted to robbery to sustain themselves, victimizing farmers in far-flung areas like in the village of Balimbing, Panglima Sugala since the marine troops intensified the conduct of seaborne patrols.
On Monday, July 24, the bandits robbed a certain Mansiar, a tenant of a coconut farm and threatened to kill its owner, Reny Flores, a brother of a soldier assigned with the MBLT-Zamboanga Peninsula.
Parcon said records showed the mayor of Panglima Sugala has ordered the Garims to leave the town but they refused and has established a temporary harbor site in the village of Batu-Batu in that municipality.
The Garims were turned over to the custody of the police in Panglima Sugala town.
The arrest of the Garims has brought to 72 Abu Sayyaf bandits apprehended by the government troops as of Wednesday in Western Mindanao.
Of the total, 11 were nabbed in Basilan, 43 in Sulu, seven in Tawi-Tawi, and 11 in Zamboanga City.