By Dave S. Albarado
Security questions have surfaced following the killing of a man in Loon on Friday who was shot by unidentified persons while answering the call of nature, as there could be a possibility communist rebels could be behind the slaying.
A man in Loon was shot on Friday in an area where suspected armed men purported to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were positively sighted, according to police reports.
The Loon police station called for back up as the Army,and the Regional Public Safety Battalion 2nd Maneuver Company responded to the report of a man killed in Barangay Katipunan, Loon.
The victim identified as Jenny Romana, also known as Lotlot, 35, was shot by an unknown assailant while outside the home of a certain Leoncio Romana.
Leoncio asked Jenny to accompany him in his house as he was afraid about a repeat of the incident that happened on February 3.
On February 3, three unidentified persons trespassed into the home of Leoncio. One of the men tried to stab Leoncio but was able to parry the attack. Despite the stab, he was not seriously wounded.
Leoncio asked Jenny to be with him. Early Friday morning, Leoncio woke up upon hearing a single burst of gunfire. He immediately went out to find Jenny already lying motionless.
The victim was mortally wounded in the attack.
The killing is happening in a known area where men purportedly members of the NPA were positively sighted may trigger some questions whether there is a concerted effort to revive the communist rebellion movement in Bohol.
With the sightings and the identification of NPA members here, questions remain whether there is a need to have a deep dive of the situation and apply remedies before the situation gets worse.
NO NEED TO PANIC?
As far as the Army is concerned, there is nothing to be worried about. Everything is under control, and the security forces are on top of the situation.
Some people dismiss the so-called motherhood statements from the authorities regarding the real situation in the province considering the reports of identification of NPA members allegedly roaming the province.
This week, Col. Ignacio Madriaga, brigade commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade said all of the elements that make Bohol an insurgency-free province remain. There is nothing to be worried about the situation even if there were sightings of armed men, numbering at least two of them.
It was reported armed men were sighted in Sevilla town. The local police have been trailing the men and monitoring their movements.
Madriaga told the Bohol Tribune via a telephone call the armed men were positively identified with the communist insurgents.
He said the armed men werepositively identified as NPA members by the former rebels who were once with the communist movement.
It is possible the brigade commander said, the men are trying to contact their former comrades and revive the movement here. Bohol used to be a hotbed of insurgency,especially in the 1990s.
However, the insurgency was finally eliminated when in 2010, the Army, the police,and the civilian government declared Bohol as insurgency-free.
In fact, Bohol is celebrating the declaration of Bohol as an insurgency-free province known as the Provincial Peace Day.
The sightings of the armed men are giving people a funny feeling down their spine knowing positively identified rebels are roaming the province.
Madriaga said he is appreciative of the effort of the community to volunteer information to the security forces.
The information provided enabled the monitoring of the movement of armed men due to the cooperation of the community in giving information, said Madriaga.
Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto believes any person who wants to disrupt the peace will have a hard time doing it in Bohol.
He gave a stern warning against the communist rebels who are purportedly trying to gain back their turf and will cause turmoil in an otherwise peaceful Bohol.
“Mo-hanyo lang mi na ayaw mo dinhi sa Bohol. Ang mga taw dinhi mura’g si Dagohoy—buotan pero mo-sukol,” (We implore you, please (NPA) don’t come to Bohol. The people here are like Dagohoy, kind, but will retaliate.) Chatto said.
The governor said when push becomes a shove, the Boholano will fight back.
Chatto stopped short of declaring Bohol remains to be insurgency-free. He said, he rather let the authorities tell whether Bohol is devoid of any insurgents or not.
Then again, the governor is confident the Boholanos will make sure any disruptions to the peace and order will not happen and will retaliate hard against those who will try to disrupt the peace.
REPORTED SIGHTINGS OF ARMED MEN
Back in August, commanding officer of the 47th Infantry Battalion Lt. Col. Joel Malig said the Army was working to validate, purportedly A1 information, about armed men sighted in the province.
Malig said the Army wants the people in the community to be aware of armed men and to engage with the security forces helping add necessary information or details for positive confirmation.
“We urge the continuing support of Boholanos as we ask them to remain vigilant,” he engages communities.
It was reported in November of last year; there were reports of at least three persons spotted to be carrying low-caliber firearms and backpacks. The persons were spotted to pass by Barangay Villaflor, Carmen town.
Other legal fronts have been under constant monitoring of the security forces, based on the report rendered on past meetings of the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC).
In July of 2017, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) launched a probe in relation to several reports of armed men sightings in various Bohol towns.
There were insinuations the armed persons spotted could be members of the NPA. The persons were spotted in the towns of Baclayon, Antequera,and Trinidad.
It was reported during a meeting of the PPOC, five men and two women, one of whom was armed allegedly with a shotgun and spotted in barangay Cambanac, Baclayon.
The government downplayed the veiled threats made by the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines directing the NPA to launch attacks and ensure to kill at least one soldier a day.
Malacañang shrugged off the threat made by CPP’s chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison to kill a soldier a day.
Sison warned the NPA could launch continued attacks against state security forces, and kill one personnel, in an attempt to force the government back to the negotiating table and re-start the peace talks.
“As NDFP chief political consultant, I advise the NDFP to recommend to the CPP and NPA to respect the Jasig (Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees) as a solemn agreement that protects the negotiating personnel of both the NDFP and GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines),” Sison said in statement issued from his base in Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Here in Bohol, the Army based here downplayed the threats. Malig said the rhetorics made by the communist rebels are nothing new.
Malig called on to the public to remain vigilant and report to authorities any suspicious personalities in their respective communities or villages.
Madriaga sees the people are no longer keen to support the insurgents. During the provincial congress of the Liga ng mgaBarangay, he urged those who are in attendance to ask the people still outside the bounds of the law to return and bask in the economic brilliance being enjoyed by Bohol.