THE claim by Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Chief Noli Taliño that Bohol is now Abu Sayyaf-free and his assurance that the situation would stay that way may sound arrogant but both PRO 7 and the Central Command (Centcom) actually acquired some sort of bragging rights after the Abus that entered Inabanga last month were finally wiped out with the deaths of Abu Ubayda and Abu Asis in Calape last Monday.
The claim and the assurance, however, should not prompt us—and that includes us Cebuanos—to lower our guards. The fight against terrorism is continuing and its enemy is overconfidence. These heady days will soon vanish and we will again be faced with the reality that the terrorists’ advantage is that they can find the weak spots in our security net and surprise us with another assault.
In this sense, government should not wallow in its triumph but should rather begin the process of looking deeply into the experience and gathering lessons from it. Taliño, for example, mentioned a possible investigation by the Bohol Provincial Board (PB) of the incident to find out how and why the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) entered the island. That, we say, is a step in the right direction.
Both “why” and “how” are important.
Answers to the “why” question could enlighten local government units and law enforcers on the mindset of the terrorists and guide them on what kind of events could be targeted more. The Abu incursion into Bohol, for example, happened several days before the province was to host preparatory meetings for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit. Was it mere coincidence or planned?
Answers to the “how” questions could help in laying down strategies and tactics in battling possible Abu Sayyaf assaults in Central Visayas. Was Inabanga really the target or is it true that the Abus got lost and only ended up in Inabanga because of it? That the Abus were able to enter the Inabanga river also shows where Bohol and Cebu are vulnerable.
The Abu Sayyaf group that entered Bohol may have already been decimated but there would be no full closure to the incident if the loose ends are not tied together and lessons learned.