4 months after ASG intrusion, Bohol tourist arrivals bounce back
Mae Clydyl L. Avila (The Freeman) - August 18, 2017 - 4:00pm

CEBU, Philippines - Tourism in Bohol is showing signs of recovery four months after the bloody encounter between Abu Sayyaf bandits and government troops in Inabanga and Clarin, which affected tourist arrivals in the province.

Koreans, for example, who account for majority of the tourist arrivals in Central Visayas, have started to visit the province in droves lately, thanks to stricter security measures implemented by law-enforcement agencies.

Joseph Shin, police attaché from the Korean consulate in Cebu, told reporters that Korean tourists have started to arrive in Bohol and Cebu to spend their vacation.

"So after the Abu Sayyaf, we in Korean government were worried. (Fortunately Bohol already recovered), so Korean tourists (will) willingly come and get ready to come to Bohol. It's our vacation season in Korea, so many Korean tourists will come and enjoy Bohol and Cebu," Shin said in an interview after a courtesy call yesterday on Police Regional Office-7 Director Chief Superintendent Jose Mario Espino.

Last April 11, a firefight ensued between personnel of Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of  the Philippines and the ASG in a hinterland portion of Inabanga town.

The clash killed government troopers 2nd Lt. Estelito Saldua, Sgt. John Dexter Duero, PO2 Rey Anthony Nazareno, and Corp. Meljune Cajaban.

Remnants of  the ASG were prevented from crossing over to nearby ports and contained in Bohol after two more separate encounters and a foiled rescue attempt of a former police official Superintendent Maria Cristina Nobleza.

Shin expressed his gratitude over the assistance and timely coordination of the regional police forces.

"I believe it's the security authorities in the Philippines and the association, thank you for that. We are aware of the police efforts. I have been very happy to work together here, and work with you. From Korean association, thank you very much," he said.

Fighting  'Salisi'

Meanwhile, Espino said the Regional Intelligence Division (RID) has been tasked to oversee the recurring incidents of theft targeting Korean restaurants in three major cities in Cebu.

"They are just asking help (for) those Korean establishments being victimized by a salisi gang. They are asking our assistance to arrest this guy, who was caught on the CCTV camera," Espino said.

During the closed-door discussion, Shin showed the police pictures and records of a certain man captured by a closed circuit  television (CCTV) camera of various establishments.

"He has been pinpointed as the leader of the salisi gang victimizing Koreans meeting in Korean restaurants," Espino said.

Since January, the same guy has been caught by security cameras robbing unsuspecting Koreans in the restaurants.

Police have yet to determine the nationality of the unidentified man.

"We do not know if he is a Korean or Filipino," Espino said.

He added that the incident has happened to several tourists, but most of them opted not to report, thinking they will be leaving the country soon after.

However, due to the frequency at which these theft incidents were committed by the same person, the police attaché said they have decided to bring the matter to the attention of the police.

Espino said he directed corresponding city and provincial directors to check on the robbery reports.

RID Chief Senior Superintendent Jonathan Cabal, for his part, assured that they will look into the matter.

"We will go after this people. We will investigate," he said. (FREEMAN)

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