CENTRAL Command (Centcom) Chief Oscar Lactao said they were transparent in giving the reward money to the Boholano who provided information leading to the killing of four Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members in Clarin. Lactao said the reward money was equally divided among the informants, who were all civilians.

The Centcom commander made the clarification following the circulation in social media of images of a one-page handwritten document signed by one of the informants. The document dated May 5, 2017 said:

“Ako si (name withheld for security reason), usa ka habal-habal driver ug nagpuyo sa Poblacion Centro sa Clarin, Bohol. Ako ang gisakyan sa usa sa mga miyembro sa Abu Sayyaf padulong sa Bacani ug nakadawat ko ug P450,000 nga cash gikan sa provencia sa Bohol in the presence of Gov. Edgar Chatto, Mayor Allen Piezas, and also in the presence of military officers. Sa ako ra nga side akong nadawat ang maong cash. Aron sa pagmatuod, miperma ko uban sa mga witness.”

The witnesses include Bacani Barangay Captain Victor Sanchez and Bernadette Junicho. The document was prepared by Sanchez’s wife and was fully understood by the haba-habal driver, who is also a close friend of the village official.

What transparency is General Lactao talking about? Is that transparency when the media was banned from covering the “awarding ceremony”? We don’t know who were the “claimants” and the exact amount given. During the awarding, only Lactao, Chatto and Clarin officials were present. Why was Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Chief Noli Taliño not invited? Had the habal-habal driver not come out in the open, we wouldn’t have known what happened to the reward money.

Was it a secret awarding ceremony? If they didn’t want to expose the identities of the “informants,” they could have just told the media not to name them and asked the “claimants” to wear masks. The media is very responsible, especially if a request is about security.

It was clear in President Duterte’s pronouncement during his visit in Bohol that the reward would be P1 million per ASG member. Unya upat may napatay, di P4 million unta?

In my radio interview with Sanchez, he said that a military officer called and asked him if he received his share, as he was also recommended for his role in helping a police intelligence agent locate the cave where the group of Joselito Melloria hid. He denied receiving any amount.

The military said the P1 million was only for Melloria as the other three ASG members were subdued by the military and not through civilian tip. Pero matultulan to ninyo kun wala ang habal-habal driver?

Again, I dare Centcom officials to produce documents, pictures or video clips on the awarding rites and the exact amount released to erase any doubt of anomalies in the handling of the reward money.