Bohol’s image as anÂ “insurgency-free”Â province could soon be challenged with the tussles between the army’s Special Forces and the leftist rebels in the second district area.
A statement from NDF Liason officer for Bohol Jose Ignacio indicated that the NPAs fired shots at an army detachment and a CAFGU unit in San Roque, Mabini on May 18 -as retaliation for “human rights violations”.The paper was signed as “Pakusgon and ArmadongÂ Rebolusyonaryong PakigbisogÂ sa Bohol”.
However, in the Provincial Peace and Order Council meeting recently, Army Deputy Brigade Commander Col Arnulfo Matanguihan , top officer of the Bohol Army Special Forces denied this saying “ wala kaming naramdaman” and could not ascertain if the volley of sounds came from guns or a feast going on nearby.
The officer said the rebels are trying to sow fear among residents by “creating a tactical offensive”Â as a kind of warning.
He also said the military has no pending human rights violation case in Bohol , but the rebels have -Â reportedly according to the Bohol Commission on Human Rights,
BOTH SIDES BUILDING FORCES ?
Earlier, theÂ Kilusang Mambubukid ng PilipinasÂ ((KMP), through its secretary generalÂ Antonio Flores reported to the PhilippineÂ Congress- about the systematic vilification of peasant leaders in BoholÂ -which could lead to further militarization and extra judicial killngs- allegedly “Palparan-style”.
It was during the assumption in 2005Â ofÂ former Gen Jovito Palparan , who was recently arrested in Sta Mesa for a series of human rights cases, that intensified extra judicial killings against peasant and labor leaders were reported. Among those allegedly killed were Victor Olayvar in 2006- who was the chair of the (Humabon) and the Alyasang Makabayan.
The report noted that ” the Sixth Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army in Bohol led by Captain Ferdinand Mopen” has beenÂ distributing leaflets alleging that Danilo Olayvar (Victor’s brother) , current chair of Humabol (Hukbong Manggagawang Bol-anon) and member of the national council is “a criminal”.
The military ,however, asserted that it is the rebels who are attempting to increase their mass base and connecting with their “white area committees” or their legal fronts to slowly regroup their armed component.
Col Matanguihgan revealed to the PPOC that the leftists are “taking a second look at Bohol”-attracted to the coming elections (permit to campaign funds?), and the huge cash coming from the government rehabilitation efforts and international donors.
It may be recalled that it was theÂ military blitzkrieg initiated by then Negros Governor Bitay Lacson -that drove the NPA’s headquarters in the Visayas to Bohol. The administration of the late Governor Rico Aumentado- and supported by the current Chatto government- converted the province into an “insurgency free” province through non-military means.
They reportedly settled inÂ the Leyte-Samar area which has been severely hit by Typhoon Yolanda.
A MILITARY CAMP INSIDE A RICE MILL?
Meantime, the Talibon-Trinidad Integrated Farmers Association (TIFTA), an affiliate of Humabol-KMP, charged the Special Forces Battalion in Bohol of constructing a District Command Post of the military inside a riceÂ mill in the area”.
“After construction,some 80 regular army troops ” will allegedly be stationed inside the mill-causing fear among the farmers -andÂ they demanded forÂ the stoppage of the construction and pullout of the military.
They also averred this illegal construction is not allowed under the CARP law since those lots covered by the law -can only be used for purely agri development ,not military camps.
The military denied such a charge-saying it is a military detachment unit being set up and isÂ only situated 720 meters outside of the controversial mill.
“The mere presence of the leftists in theÂ ARC San Vicente ,makes the military presence in the area necessary, as well”, saysÂ Bohol DAR Division Chief AttyÂ Jones Lim, citing DAR’s need to cooperate when necessary with the military as provided for by Administrative OrderÂ no 07 sections 110-111.
In a letter addressed to SB Trinidad and mayor Judith Cajes, the DAR said it is only the DAR that has to powerÂ to award lots to ARB (beneficiaries) even if the land is not cultivated.
Atty Grace Pua, Provincial ARP Office chief said that TITFA cannot also be entitled to have CARP lands because they are an association, not individuals.
Land could not also be given to TITFAÂ because “collective ownership” pre-supposes four givens: (1)Â a plan is required for collective farming under integrated farm crops (2)Â multiple integrated cropping system (3)Â farmers laborers must be organized specific to functions and (4)Â Â are not justÂ mere farmers working in a contiguous area.
TITFA has been accused to have organized 100 individuals to rally before the Trinidad market to advance the alleged leftists’ agenda, according to the military.
Through all these- the big question remains- are the rebels raring to get back to Bohol where it sees potential for progress and infiltration? Will the military allow it? (With reports from PIA 7 Bohol)