MANILA - The three remaining Abu Sayyaf bandits who recently attacked Bohol and remain at large are believed to be unarmed, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said.
AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said in a forum in Malacanang that the military already has the situation in Bohol under control.
"Out of the seven who we have been going after, we were able to neutralize 4. We have remaining three who we believe are unarmed," Padilla said.
“[AFP chief] General [Eduardo] Año confidently said that we have addressed this threat.”
Abu Sayyaf, notorious for its kidnap-for-ransom activities, recently attacked popular tourist destination Bohol, in what the authorities said was an attempt by the group to carry out another abduction.
However, a gunfight with the military and the police in the province foiled the supposed plan, which if it had succeeded could have embarrassed the government which is in the thick of preparations for the country’s hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meetings.
The gun battle resulted in the killings of Abu Sayyaf leader Muamar Askali, several other members of the bandit group, and Joselito Melloria, who allegedly guided the group in the Visayan province.
Authorities believe only three Abu Sayyaf bandits remain at large, following the killing of Melloria and three others over the weekend.
Padilla said the killing of most of the Abu Sayyaf bandits shows the government’s resolve in keeping the country safe.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said he has ordered government forces to kill the remaining terrorists who are still hiding in Bohol.
Speaking during the opening ceremony of the Palarong Pambansa 2017, Duterte slammed terrorists as "animals" and said he wants them dead.
"I want them dead. Huwag niyong ibigay sa akin nang buhay," he said.
"Terrorists slit throats. They are animals. But if you want me to be an animal, eh sanay rin ako diyan," he said.