EVER since, the threat of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is existing and real, according to 79th Infantry Battalion Commander Officer Roderick Garcia, who spoke during the Negros Oriental provincial peace and order council (PPOC) regular meeting Tuesday, November 8, at the Provincial Capitol building.
The Philippine Army commander reported that documents gathered from the ASG showed the enemy is getting physical information about the resorts and their location in the province to include pictures of sea crafts utilized by the tourists, which is essential in their kidnapping operations.
In view of this development, there is a probability the group may hire or procure the same sea crafts to avoid detection, raising the possibility of kidnapping in the province as what happened to a resort in Samal Island.
It will be recalled that last October 21, while the Provincial Government was celebrating Buglasan Festival during the showdown of festivals, a member of the ASG identified as Alhabisi Misaya was monitored in Alcoy and Talisay in Cebu, crossing over to Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte via Liloan, Cebu and Dumaguete City.
On October 30, the encounter occurred at Barangay Bunot, Indana, Sulu where ASG sub-leader Muammar Askali alias Abu Rami was spotted. Recovered during that encounter was the cellphone owned by Munjing Ahadjari, who is the right hand of Askali.
Garcia said what happened in Samal Island where three foreigners were kidnapped including a local resident was not the primary purpose, however, their original target was in Davao but because of heavy security forces in the area, this prompted the ASG to divert to that island.
He said the group is mobile that they will strike when given the opportunity to do so.
That is why in Negros Oriental, the police and the army are implementing target hardening measures with deployment of troops in areas where foreigners are heavily concentrated to include resorts and other tourist destinations of the province.
The 79th IB has deployed one Army Scout platoon in Dumaguete, another squad in Dauin, and has added one team of Army troopers to Apo Island to strengthen their presence in the area.
Garcia assured that they are doing their best to secure the province from threat groups. (PNA)