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Foreign Tourists in Bohol Safe from Abu Sayyaf
« on: January 13, 2011, 01:21:19 PM »
By the Bohol Standard

Police and army units in the province are still placed on heightened alert after receiving “raw information” on an alleged plot by the terrorist group Abu Sayaff to kidnap foreign tourists in resorts here.

Bohol Provincial Police Office director SSupt. Constantino Barot Jr. said that he initially received a forwarded text message on Monday from SSupt. Augusto Marquez, chief of the Police Regional Office (PRO 7) Regional Intelligence Division, prompting them to beef up security especially in resorts on Panglao Island and coastal areas of the province.

The forwarded message read: “Sir, gud pm. Yong Alpha ko sa Zamboanga nagsabi na may 5 na ASG na lumakad kanina gamit ang double-engine na speed boat papuntang Bohol. May kikidnapin daw po sila na 2 foreigners probably in Panglao. Grupo po ito ni Dr. Abu. Nauna na raw po last week doon ang 2 spotters.” [Sir... my Alpha in Zamboanga said that 5 ASG men left on a double-engine speed boat for Bohol. They will reportedly kidnap two foreigners, probably in Panglao. The group is headed by Dr. Abu. Two spotters went ahead to Bohol two weeks ago.]

But Marquez, who personally came here Wednesday, later told Barot the information was not an intelligence report from Mindanao and was forwarded to him from the police in Region 8.

However Barot said they still took the information seriously and coordinated with the military in the province through Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner of the 2nd Special Forces battalion to verify the information but so far, they have not confirmed it.

“Our intelligence units (in the PNP and military) are investigating the source of the message. We want to dig deeper into this,” Barot said.

He added that those who circulated the text message could be a person or a group wanting to destroy the image of Bohol as a tourist destination.

But even if the text message was unverified, Barot said, he beefed up the security in Panglao and other coastal towns.

He said he declared the whole PNP in the province under heightened alert since Monday and has assigned more policemen in strategic areas near the different resorts. Major entry and exit points are being manned by checkpoints since Tuesday.

The Maritime police in the province also conducted sea patrols in Panglao and other strategic locations.

According to Barot, coastal towns that are hosts to many resorts in the province are now tightly secured by joint patrols conducted by the Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, Bantay Dagat task forces and the PNP tourist police units based here.

In a separate interview, Lt. Col. Brawner said quick response teams are ready against any eventuality that the reports are true regarding the plot of five Abu Sayaff bandits who were purportedly seen aboard two twin-engine speed boats crossing from northern Mindanao towards Bohol.

Brawner said that military intelligence operatives are validating the threat information but the AFP and PNP are “prepared for any eventuality”.

Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto has called up municipal mayors early Tuesday to closely coordinate with authorities and put in place contingency measures to address the reported Abu Sayaff threat.

The intelligence report identified the 5-man Abu Sayaff team to be led by a Dr. Abu Pula.

Police and military intelligence operations are likewise tightened in other parts of the region to pre-empt the terrorist groups plan to stage attacks in the Visayas.

SSupt. Marquez added that Abu Sayaff extremists could hardly launch terrorist attacks in other provinces as they are apparently on the run in their hideouts in Mindanao following their reported attacks during the holidays.

“If there are people who wanted to kidnap tourists in Panglao, they seemed to be committing suicide because we doubled our security in the area through the tourist police and provincial mobile group," Marquez said.

Marquez talked with police officials here in the province last Wednesday.

“The situation here is normal,” Marquez said.

He confirmed that a similar text message has been circulating in Negros Oriental and Cebu because several people from those areas called him up to inform him about the supposed arrival of five Abu Sayaff men led by a certain Dr. Abu.

The police official said security forces have “significantly reduced” the threat posed by the Abu Sayyaf group, which has terrorized the nation with bombings, murders, and high-profile kidnappings.

“I don’t think they can do it because they have been on the run. Even in Zambonga they cannot go there (and) do any (terrorist activities), how much more in other provinces?”

Based on military intelligence, the Abu Sayyaf bandits have broken into “very small groups” to evade relentless operations against them by military troops. The military’s latest estimate placed the Abu Sayyaf's strength at 405 rebels.

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Re: Foreign Tourists in Bohol Safe from Abu Sayyaf
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2011, 09:24:57 AM »

And the message was certainly not an intelligence report by any decent definition of the term...
...than to speak out and remove all doubt." - Abraham Lincoln



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