Insurgency back in Bohol?: Army clashes with armed men
CEBU, Philippines — After enjoying the status of being insurgency-free for many years, talks about rebels being back in Bohol have gained traction after members of the 47th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army were mired in an encounter with an undetermined armed group in Batuan town noon yesterday.
According to First Lieutenant Emma Grace Remonde, the Civil Military Operation officer of 47th IB, the authorities were yet to determine, as of this writing, if there were any casualties during the encounter.
“Wala pang dineclare na casualty,” Remonde told The FREEMAN yesterday afternoon.
Remonde said that during the joint operation conducted by the army and PNP in the municipality of Bilar in Bohol, the Charlie company of the military encountered four armed men in the area.
“Ongoing pa yung operation kasi hinahabol nila yung nagtatakbuhan na kalaban (The operation is still ongoing as we are still going after the enemies),” Remonde said.
The initial report, however, said that the tracks of blood on the enemies’ withdrawal route suggested that authorities were able to hit them.
There was no casualty on the part of the government troops.
Prior to the encounter, Remonde revealed that they had received information regarding the presence of several armed groups in the area.
“May mga monitoring na ginawa, tapos may mga reports na natanggap na may mga sightings ng mga armadong tao sa barangay na ‘yan (Barangay Rizal),” she said.
Remonde said that they were able to verify the reports. However, they have yet to determine if the armed men encountered were members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
“Pero sinasabi naman na yung mga armed men na na-encounter ng army ay hindi pa naman siya confirmed na members ng NPA,” she explained.
Remonde added that although Bohol has been declared insurgency-free for several years now, it is still in the recovery stage. Thus, she asked the cooperation of the local governments and the public in reporting sightings of insurgents.
Bohol was declared “insurgency-free” by the Armed Forces of the Philippines on February 11, 2010. In fact, it was declared as a model for AFP’s peace programs and successful campaigns against the NPA.
At present, the whole Bohol Provincial Police Office is conducting random checkpoints in different areas across the province. JMD (FREEMAN)