(Updated) -- Camiguin beefed up its security in case the firefight between armed bandits and state security forces in a northern town in Bohol will spill over to this island-province, police said Tuesday.
At least nine persons were killed as the clash between 10 suspected armed members of the Abu Sayyaf Group continued in the town of Inabanga on Tuesday, reports noted. One of the casualties was a policeman, the report added.
Joint police and military forces engaged with the armed group after residents informed authorities of the presence of heavily armed persons on board three pump boats along the river in Barangay Ilaya in Inabanga.
Superintendent Reggie Oñate, Camiguin police’s deputy provincial director for operations, said they have been on full alert following an order from the regional police command even before the Lenten season.
Thousands of devotees and tourists travel to Camiguin to have their “Panaad” to the island during Holy Week.
Mambajao Mayor Jurdin Jesus Romualdo, in a text message Tuesday, said the local government was monitoring the situation in Bohol as tourists visiting the White Island and Mantigue Island, two of the tourist spots in Camiguin, were not evacuated.
The White and Mantigue islands are both facing the southern part of Bohol.
Camiguin is four hours away from the southern town of Jagna, Bohol by boat. Jagna is about a two- hour drive from Inabanga.
“It is business as usual,” Romualdo said referring to the situation in Camiguin. However, he advised residents and visitors to be on alert and to report to law enforcers of any suspicious-looking persons in their vicinity.
Oñate said the eruption of violence in Bohol will have no effect on the religious activities in Camiguin, particularly the yearly “Panaad,” in time for the observance of the Holy Week.
Oñate said the island is generally peaceful.
In a previous interview on April 3, Superintendent Wilber Salaguste, former Camiguin provincial deputy director for administration, said 200 police officers in the island are on full alert and those who are on leave were recalled, to secure the island not just on Holy Week but for the summer months.
“Aside from Panaad, we also have a security plan for the entire summer,” Salaguste said, prior to his reassignment.
“Panaad” is a yearly act of penitence for devotees who walk the island’s 70-kilometer circumferential road during the Holy Week.
Salaguste said the province’s police force was divided into groups and these groups were assigned to keep watch on the various parts of the island, especially infrastructures, establishments and tourist spots.
Meanwhile, the Police Regional Office (PRO) in Northern Mindanao intensified its security measures and monitoring following a clash between government forces and suspected Aby Sayyaf bandits in Bohol province.
Police Superintendent Lemuel Gonda, PRO-Northern Mindanao spokesperson said all unit commanders have been directed to intensify security measures and the conduct of police operations.
Gonda said they are also directed to conduct monitoring any wounded persons, confined or admitted, in any hospitals, clinics, and health centers here.
Five members of the armed group, one policeman and three army soldiers were killed in the clash that started around 5:20 a.m Tuesday in barangay Napo, Inabanga town.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command and Police Regional Office-Central Visayas said in a joint statement that authorities seized high-powered firearms, which include three M16 and one M4 from the bandits led by Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Abu Rami. (With a reports from PJ Orias and PNA)
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