Abu Sayyaf might have killed elderly couple in Bohol – AFP
MANILA, Philippines – The bodies of elderly couple Constancio and Crisenta Petalco were among those recovered at the encounter site in Inabanga, Bohol, last week, but the military said it was possible they were killed by the Abu Sayyaf.
The Petalcos' nephew was among the Abu Sayyaf members who sailed there from Sulu, the military confirmed on Monday, April 17. The bandits stayed in their house.
"There is a possibility that the Abu Sayyaf themselves killed them. They could have been suspected of being the ones to have reported to the authorities the presence of the members of the Abu Sayyaf. We do not want to speculate," said Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office chief Colonel Edgard Arevalo.
The police is investigating why the couple did not evacuate along with their neighbors, and whether they coddled the bandits or were taken as hostages.
Relatives of the Petalcos told ABS-CBN News that the elderly couple were not able to evacuate because "they were slow to move and old."
But the military in Bohol suspects that they were willing accomplices because one of the Abu Sayyaf members – Joselito Melloria – is their nephew.
"The Petalco couple are residents of said place and the owner of the house where the Abu Sayyaf Group positioned during the time of encounter," said Captain Jojo Mascariñas, Civil Military Operations chief of the Army 302nd Brigade.
"Accordingly, Crisenta was a relative of Joselito Melloria, who is believed to be the one who guided the other ASG members to the said place."
Mascariñas added that they appeared to have welcomed the local terrorists from Sulu into their home and showed no signs that they were taken as hostages.
Arevalo said they were surprised by reports that civilians were caught in the crossfire because the military launched "surgical operations" after they were assured by local officials that the residents had evacuated.
"If this indeed happened, it is the subject of the ongoing investigation. Investigations are being conducted by the Philippine National Police to ascertain the reason why the couple or the people mentioned stayed at the encounter site," Arevalo said.
The military foiled the planned Abu Sayyaf attack in Bohol and killed notorious Abu Sayyaf leader Muamar Askali or Abu Rami, who brought his men to Bohol to take advantage of the influx of tourists during Holy Week.
Local residents reported their presence in Inabanga, which prompted quick response from authorities. (READ: Bad or good intel: 5 questions on the Abu Sayyaf presence in Bohol)
Three soldiers and a cop were also killed in the clashes in Bohol. – Rappler.com