The Philippine Army and National Police yesterday debunked reports of alleged armed men who got off from a boat in a coastal barangay of Inayawan in Cauayan, Negros Occidental.
Colonel Eliezer Losañes, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, clarified yesterday that it was an American identified as Frank Blaskes, 74, and his companions, who docked at the coastal area of Brgy.Inayawan, Cauayan, after their boat suffered an engine malfunction.
Losañes, who supervises the internal security operations of the Philippine Army in Negros Island Region, said that Blakes and his 11-year-old daughter, Liza, who came from Bacong, Negros Oriental, were on their way to Sipalay City, Negros Occidental, when the boat they were riding malfunctioned.
Chief Inspector Ruben Pajarito, Cauayan police officer-in-charge, said the boat drifted towards the territorial waters of the Inayawan barangay town, where Blaskes and his daughter, later docked.
In the same area, the presence of about 10 armed men suspected to be New People's Army rebels were also reported to the Inayawan barangay officials, who relayed the information to the police, Pajarito said.
He said the armed men may have been mistaken as the occupants of the boat, that had docked in the area.
Five Abu Sayyaf bandits who were believed planning to kidnap tourists in central Visayas, died in an encounter with combined forces of the 47th Infantry Battalion and the police in Inabanga, Bohol, last week.
Pajarito said he believes that Abu Sayyaf bandits will not try their luck in Cauayan, as they have no contact in the area, citing the absence of a Muslim community in the town.
Blaskes and his daughter were escorted by Inayawan barangay officials in their return to Dumaguete City on Saturday, while their boat, that is equipped with latest navigation equipment, is now under the custody of the barangay officials, for repair.
Investigations of the Cauayan police showed that the boat propeller hit a rock, and that caused its engine to malfunction.
Pajarito commended the Inayawan barangay officials and residents for their vigilance.
Meanwhile, Losañes said they have not lowered their guards down even in previous months, especially in securing the tourist destination areas of southern Negros.
He also said they have not received any report of “ terror threat” in tourist destination areas of southern Negros, so far.
The city of Sipalay and its neighboring towns of Hinobaan and Cauayan, that are known for their diving sites and beach resort areas, are among the areas of Negros Island Region frequently visited by foreigners, especially from Europe.*GPB
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