THE Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) has called on the government to upgrade military equipment following last week’s clash with members of the Abu Sayyaf group in Bohol.
In a statement, VACC founding chairman and president Dante Jimenez said the Abu Sayyaf terrorists “had gone that bold” as to pursue terrorism outside of their bases and usual areas of operation in Basilan and Sulu, targeting areas where local and foreign tourists thrive.
“This bold maneuver is alarming. Reports have it that they have reached as far as Manila to sow terror, “ Jimenez said.
He noted that Abu Sayyaf bandits are known to use powerful speedboats in crossing the sea from Western Mindanao to kidnap local and foreign tourists.
“Based on reports on the firefight incident in Bohol, the bandits numbered about around 60 Abu Sayyaf terrorists who arrived in the town of Inabanga on board three speedboats before they were intercepted and neutralized upon the tips provided by local residents,” Jimenez said.
“The pump boats used by the ASG reportedly have a speed of 40 kilometers per hour (kph) against the Philippine Coast Guard’s patrol craft that allegedly have maximum speed of 20 kph only. This is a wake-up call to upgrade our watercraft and weaponry,” he added.
Jimenez lauded the “heroic display of courage and effective intelligence” by the Philippine military, police, and Coast Guard operatives, who killed the Abu Sayyaf members in a fierce battle in Barangay Napo, Inabanga town, Bohol province on April 11.
The incident left three soldiers, a policeman and five Abu Sayyaf bandits killed.
“We commend the government troops for their display of courage and military capability in successfully thwarting the threat posed by the Abu Sayyaf elements, who are poised to sow terroristic activities like kidnap-for-ransom in Cebu, Bohol and other parts of the Visayas, according to the intelligence reports,” Jimenez said.
“Without the information from the residents of Barangay Napo, Inabangan town, Bohol and the timely interception by the government troops, the Abu Sayyaf bandits could have perpetrated incalculable terror and destruction on human lives against the innocent public and local and foreign tourists,” he added.
The clash came after the United States and Australian embassies warned their citizens about possible kidnappings by “terrorist groups” in the central Philippines.
Bohol is a major tourist destination, where foreign tourists swim with whale sharks and marvel at tiny primates called tarsiers, go on cruises aboard boats on crystal-clear rivers and frolic at white-sand beaches.