Abu Sayyaf encounter fails to dampen Bohol tourism: gov

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 17 2017 10:02 AM | Updated as of Apr 17 2017 10:28 AM

Barrier tape seals off the body of slain Abu Sayyaf rebel leader Abu Rami in a field in the town of Ibanga, Bohol Wednesday. Romel Labra, EPA

MANILA - Despite a deadly gun battle between state troops and Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Bohol, the Visayan province continued to enjoy high tourist arrivals last Holy Week, Bohol Governor Edgardo Chatto said Monday.

"Normal dito, even noong Holy Week. All the [hotel] rooms were filled up, almost. From 80, 90 to 100 percent ang occupancy ng mga resort, hindi nagbago," Chatto said in a phone interview with radio DZMM.

(The situation here is normal, even during the Holy Week. All the hotel rooms were filled up, almost. The average occupancy rate of resorts was between 80, 90 to 100 percent.)

Bohol is home to the Chocolate Hills, the Danao Adventure Park, a tarsier conservation area, and popular beach resorts. Near the province are the islands of Cebu, the main trading and transportation hub in the Central Philippines.

Last week, Abu Sayyaf members arrived in Inabanga town in Bohol.

Security forces were later deployed to the area, prompting a firefight that forced hundreds of residents to evacuate. Ten people, including 4 state troopers and 6 alleged terrorists, were killed in the firefight.

Authorities are still on the hunt for suspected Abu Sayyaf fighters who escaped the encounter.

"Heightened alert tayo sa side ng Inabanga dahil habang hindi natuloy ang balak nila at naagapan ng ating pwersa at ng reports ng mga tao, mayroon pang iilan na hindi nasama doon," Chatto said in the DZMM interview.

"Monitored sila closely, contained pa rin sa side ng Inabanga pero it's not causing trouble to the rest of the province."

(We are still on heightened alert in the side of Inabanga because though we thwarted their plans, there are still some Abu Sayyaf members who escaped. They are being monitored closely and are still contained in the side of Inabanga. It's not causing trouble to the rest of the province.)

Cebu officials on Monday are set to give psycho-social help to residents traumatized by the Abu Sayyaf attack, Chatto said.

The local government, he added, is also busy with preparing to host a meeting of Southeast Asian central bank governors and finance ministers, as well as the upcoming opening of international flights in the Tagbilaran Airport.