THE British Embassy in Manila issued an updated travel advisory, urging its nationals to avoid traveling to southern Cebu, particularly the towns of Badian and Dalaguete, due to alleged threats of terrorism.
This came just a month after members of the Abu Sayyaf Group clashed with government forces in Bohol, which resulted in the deaths of nine suspected terrorists.
In its May 11 advisory, the British Embassy also advised its nationals to avoid western Mindanao and Sulu because of alleged terrorist activities and clashes between military and insurgent groups in these areas.
“Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in the Philippines. Terrorist groups continue to plan attacks and have the capacity and the intent to carry out attacks at anytime and anywhere in the country. Attacks could happen anywhere, including places visited by foreigners, like airports, shopping malls, public transport and places of worship,” the advisory said.
The British Embassy also urged its nationals to remain vigilant at all times and to report anything suspicious to authorities.
In another development, the two surviving Abu Sayyaf members in Bohol were spotted last Thursday in Pangangan Island, Calape.
Police Regional Office (PRO)-Central Visayas Director Noli Taliño said that a joint military and police team is hunting down Abu Asis and Abu Ubayda.
They are all that remained of the 11 Abu Sayyaf members who landed in Bohol early last month.
“They are still reported to be armed. Our troops and our policemen are conducting a follow-up operation to locate their whereabouts and they are contained in Bohol,” Taliño assured.
Abu Asis and Ubayda were sighted in Barangay Candungao, San Isidro, carrying empty sacks, a black plastic bag and a paddle on Monday morning.
The pursuit conducted by the 47th Infantry Battalion and the Calape police on Thursday was conducted after a resident of Abucayan Sur, Calape reported his fishing boat stolen. The vessel was later found in Pangangan Island, said Bohol Provincial Police Office (BPPO) Director Felipe Natividad.
“They probably used a paddle and the stolen boat to get there. They hid their faces with a white shirt and wore black clothes but our witness and our informants said that one of them looked like Asis,” said.
He said that Asis was seen by a resident wearing a black shirt and black pants. Ubayda was seen holding a staff. He is believed to have a hard time walking after he was injured in San Isidro.
Natividad said that Asis is armed with a .45 pistol, while Ubayda has an M16.
In Barangay Cahayag, Pangangan, John (real name withheld), 14, said a “thin” Asis approached him, asking for leftover rice.
“I got scared… and ran away,” John said.
Asis reportedly knocked at the back of their house last Thursday afternoon. Troops didn’t arrive until 7 p.m.
Because of the report, Natividad said that vessels from the Philippine Navy and the Maritime police are monitoring the waters surrounding Pangangan Island.
The island is surrounded by a three-hectare mangrove forest. Authorities believe the two Abu Sayyaf members are hiding there.
Residents, though, have not been ordered to evacuate.
The island is 10 kilometers from the Bohol mainland and three hours from Argao in southern Cebu.
The BPPO director, though, assured the public that they are scouring the mangroves for the two stragglers.
“They may be hiding there, but we will find them,” Natividad said.