Authorities in the provincial government of Bohol have slammed the actuation by some foreign nationals who sneaked last week into the province without paying a courtesy call or coordinating with the local police for information purposes.
According to sources from the military, at least 30 foreign nationals from Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Canada were holding a clandestine meeting at a house in Barangay San Vicente, Trinidad, Bohol.
“Their presence in Bohol was dubious,” said a Capitol official who asked not to be named pending investigation of the alleged lack of courtesy of the foreign nationals.
“What are they doing in Bohol? What are they planning to do? Why are they hiding in a remote barangay in Trinidad? Certainly, they are not tourists. We welcome tourists, but not terrorists,” the official said.
Police Senior Inspector Marcos Lopez, chief of Trinidad PNP Station, confirmed with the local media that the foreigners arrived in the town on or before April 22, 2018, and were allegedly hosted by Farmers Development Center Inc. (Fardec).
Lopez said they monitored the place where the foreign nationals were holding a meeting, noting that the police did not approach them in order to investigate.
“Private property man ilang gipuy-an, wala mi miduol sa lugar, nagmonitor lang mi sa gawas,” the chief of police said.
Members of the activist group, Trinidad-Talibon Integrated Farmers Association (TTIFA), allegedly facilitated the stay of the unnamed foreign nationals.
Trinidad Mayor Judith Cajes had confirmed the presence of foreign nationals, who did not pay a courtesy call with her office.
Liza M. Quirog, head of the provincial government’s socio-economic and environment management (SEEM) cluster, also confirmed to media that the foreign nationals did not pay a courtesy call with the office of Gov. Edgar M. Chatto.
Quirog said officials in the province were not aware of the arrival of the foreign nationals until an informant of the Purok Power Movement notified the police.
Senior Supt. Angeles Geñorga, Bohol police director, was also caught unaware of the suspicious presence of the foreign nationals, according to a Camp Dagohoy source.
Meanwhile, a source from Trinidad told The Bohol Tribune that the foreign nationals were invited by HUMABOL (Hugpong sa Mag-uumang Bol-anong) for the so-called funding request and project-monitoring.
It was not known what project was being monitored by the foreign nationals.
Since the incursion of Abu Sayyaf terrorists here in April last year, local government and military authorities have become wary of the presence of unidentified individuals, let alone foreign nationals converging in the hills of San Vicente, Trinidad, Bohol.
The military’s ongoing intensified operations against communist terrorists and other threat groups have so far resulted in the surrender of 6,709 individuals since the cancellation of peace talks last year.
“Since the cancellation of the peace talks last year 6,709 armed communist-terrorists and sympathizers have already surrendered and 288 assorted firearms were also seized,” Philippine Army Spokesperson Lt. Col. Louie Villanueva said Thursday.
The campaign against the Abu Sayyaf Group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and Maute Group terrorists, have resulted in the capture and surrender of 96 terror personalities, he added.
Villanueva said the extension of martial law in Mindanao has contributed to the success of the military’s operations. Martial law was declared on May 23, 2017 following heavy attacks of Maute Group terrorists in Marawi City.
“These victories can also be attributed to the response and cooperation of the community as well as the local leaders imbibed with the idea that security is a shared and everybody’s responsibility,” Villanueva added.
Congress, in a special joint session in July, granted the extension of martial law until Dec. 31, 2017 at President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s request.
The Senate and House of Representatives, convening in a joint session early December, granted Duterte’s request for the extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus for a period of one year from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018. (PNA)