While the national government is not suspending military offensives against the now-terrorists New People’s Army (NPA), Philippine Army soldiers stationed in Bohol will maintain alert level for any movement of communist guerrillas in the province even during the holidays.
According to 302nd Infantry Brigade Commander Brig. Gen. Arnulfo Matanguihan, there will be no ceasefire against NPA guerillas nationwide unlike in previous years when both state and the communist rebels agreed to implement a holiday truce.
Matanguihan however assured that Bohol remained insurgency-free even amid purported sightings of unidentified armed men across remote villages in the province during the previous months.
Bohol residents need not fret over any NPA attack as state forces have not received any official information indicating the presence of rebel threats in the province, Matanguihan said.
Still, the army general urged the public to be vigilant and to report suspicious personalities and activities in their respective areas.
According to Matanguihan, they are also preparing counter measures against possible offensives during the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) anniversary on December 26 despite the absence of direct local threats.
Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa earlier warned of possible attacks by the NPA, the CPP’s armed wing, during the anniversary celebration.
For his part, Bohol Provincial Police Office (BPPO) operations officer Supt. Jonathan Satentes previously said that all of Bohol’s 48 police stations were directed to adopt defense measures in the wake of the NPA attack on a police precinct in Misamis Oriental early in December.
According to Satentes, alertness against insurgency has been boosted ever since peace talks between the government and the CPP’s political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF), broke down.
Satentes admitted that while Bohol remains insurgency-free there is big possibility that NPA forces from adjacent Negros, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao will flee to the province.
The intensified campaign against the now-terrorists in these locations would likely force them to retreat towards areas such as Bohol, he said.
However, BPPO director Sr. Supt. Felipe Natividad earlier noted that local police forces have long been prepared for any attack after Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits infiltrated the province in mid-April, and were neutralized a little over a month later.
“It’s continuous that we’re reminding all the police stations to be [alert]. Ever since the Abu Sayyaf intrusion, we never let our guard down,” Natividad said in Filipino and English during a previous interview with dyRD Balita.
The BPPO’s intelligence network, which was crucial in crushing the 10-man ASG unit that infiltrated Bohol in April, has also been strengthened particularly in coastal areas, he said. (AD)