Army denies presence of Abu Sayyaf in Eastern Visayas

CATBALOBAN CITY, Samar – The Philippine Army here has dismissed reports of sightings of armed men believed to be members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Dolores, Eastern Samar and Sta. Fe, Leyte.

Major Gen. Raul Farnacio, commander of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division, confirmed Tuesday the presence of Muslims in Dolores and Sta. Fe towns.

However, they are not engaged in any terroristic activities in the area. “They are merely doing business,” he stressed.

Farnacio said Muslims in the region promised to assist government troops in the identification of potential terrorists.

“We have been closely monitoring the developments in nearby Bohol province to preempt the possible entry of ASG members and other terror groups to Leyte and Samar provinces,” the Army official said.

Joint deployments have been done by the Army and police to ensure the security and safety of the public and tourists in the area, he said.

Chief Supt. Elmer Beltejar, Philippine National Police Eastern Visayas regional director, reminded the public to be vigilant while in possible target areas like malls, car parks and tourist attractions.

“The public should stay calm despite the warning since the police is on top of the situation,” Beltejar said.

Beltejar advised those who received unverified reports not to spread the information, but instead share it to the local police for verification. Jazmin Bonifacio/