3 civilians died in war vs. ASG

INABANGA, Bohol — Three civilians, all senior citizens, died as a result of an assault against the suspected members of the Abu Sayaff Group (ASG) by the government troopers on April 11, 2017 in sitio Ilaya, barangay Napo of this town, about 75 kms northwest of capital Tagbilaran City.

A couple identified as Constancio Petalco, 65, and his wife, Crisanta Doblas Petalco, were among the casualties following the air strike against the terrorists on that fateful day (April 12, 2017), Napo barangay chairman Columbus Estoce told DYTR in interview.

Capt. Jojo Mascariñas, spokesman of the 302nd brigade, also confirmed this to PNA on Saturday in his text to this writer.

He said that Constancio Petalco was the uncle of Joselito Melloria, a resident of the barangay who married a Muslim woman, whose unnamed father was one of the ASG leaders.

A relative of the senior couple (Petalco), Ronila Sabijon Kudemus lamented in her facebook post. “Unsa man mo wala geapil ag gehostyaged ug report?? Namatay aqong uyuan uban sa iya asawa …asag hustisya ani?? Kung nagol mis fallen comrades misamot kroon huhuhu. RIP TIYO ug TIYA.” (Why no report on hostage persons? My uncle died with his wife, where’s justice? If we’re worried about the fallen comrades, we are most worried).

Inabanga Communications and News Service (ICoNS) posted in its website Municipality of Inabanga that the couple’s corpse “were finally laid to rest” on Thursday at Cawayan Public Cemetery.

It added that “Four bodies from the armed group, 3 from the encounter last Tuesday and 1 who was found in a shallow grave Thursday morning, were also buried at the back of a separate cemetery,” But it did not mention the identities of the other four dead bodies and the one found in a shallow grave.

“The relatives accompanied by Napo Barangay Captain Bobot Estose paid Mayor Roygie Jumamoy a visit to discuss how to claim the bodies. Yesterday, relatives and friends of the elderly couple visited the lady mayor again and asked assistance on the burial. The surviving children, Sally and Marlon Petalco who will be arriving soon, together with other immediate relatives agreed among themselves to bury the bodies urgently considering they are already in advanced state of decomposition. Anymore delay will threaten the health of personnel handling the decaying cadaver.”

“The government will facilitate and shoulder all documentary requirements and expenses that will be incurred in laying down the elderly couple to rest. A financial assistance will also be given to the beneficiaries,” it said.

Icons, an official media office of this town, said that the Philippine National Police (PNP) “has not yet issued a statement” of the circumstances surrounding the death of the elderly couple, “considering their connection, involvement and presence in the target area.”

The PNP is also expected to issue statement on the identities of four other casualties from the armed group.

Giant TV network ABS-CBN reported that the relatives of Petalco couple were “killed in Tuesday’s crossfire between government forces and the Abu Sayyaf group saying further that the two victims were mistakenly identified as terrorists.”

The couple reportedly “failed to heed government orders to evacuate Barangay Napo, Inabanga town, Bohol, because they were slow to move and old. Constantina also has joint problems.”

ABS-CBN also reported that “Lieutenant Colonel Jose Dodjie Belloga Jr., commander of the 47th Infantry Batallion, said the couple were considered part of the Abu Sayyaf because they refused to clear the premises.”

“Iyong mga naiwan sa loob, sa amin, are considered supporters or kasama ng ASG,” ABS-CBN quoted Belloga as saying.

Meanwhile, a certain Beatriz Labandero, 80, a resident of barangay Liloan Norte, a neighboring barangay where the gunbattle ensued to crush the terrorists, has died allegedly for heart attack during the air strikes by two airplanes on Tuesday, according to Jimmylito Logronio, her grand son, said in interview.

Logronio family is one of the families that evacuated to the town’s gym for safety upon advice by their barangay and town officials.

Kag. Leticia Son of barangay Liloan Sur said that their barangay is now considered as no man’s land. She said the residents of 223 households evacuated to town’s gym while others at nearby barangay Nabuad’s covered court.

She said that some were forced to leave home because of fear but they wanted to return to their respective homes to check their belongings, farms and animals. But the problem is that, she said, the authorities still barred them from going home as of this writing.

On the AFP’s side, those killed in action (KIA) include 2nd Lt. Estilito Saldua Jr.; Cpl. Miljune Cajaban; and Sgt. John Dexter Duero; and PNP’s Rey Anthony Nazareno, new graduate of Special Weapons and tactics (SWAT) in Bohol.

Wounded was Cpl. Cris Jude Porlas. Recovered from the area were high-powered firearms, three M16 rifle, one (1) M4 Carbine and one mortar cartridge, police said.

Mascrinas said that government troops had retrieved instruments of what appeared to be bomb-making gadgets and high-powered guns from the terrorists’ lair following the clearing operations in the area.

These included one M4 rifle; two M16; a rifle; one .45 Norinco .45 caliber; one M204 bullet; one 81mm mortar catridge; two short housing magazines; three detonating cords; one galva tester; one Icom radio; and one flashlight.

Also recovered were two remote control radio; 49 blasting caps; one blasting cap with cord attached; two remote control radio; two surgical forceps; one plastic container; one switch board; five Korans; one electric soldering iron; 27 pieces glue stick; eight Improvised explosive assembly devices; one electrical cutter; one scissor; one small screw driver; one LED component; 22 pieces silicon SCR; four relay 12-volt; eight slide switches; 86 red lights’ 46 resistors; three cellphone batteries; two pressure clip; 10 Christmas light bulbs; three pump boats; and five dead bodies.

Troopers have not identified yet the Abu Sayaff fatalities here so far. Philippine News Agency-northboundasia.com