Governor Edgar Chatto, amid purported movements of New People’s Army (NPA) members in the province, warned armed groups planning to enter the province and carry out crimes that state forces and vigilant residents would not allow them to succeed.
“If ma-verify na na dunay mga armado na taw, dili pud nato katingad-an na mo gamit og pwersa ang kagamhanan,” said Chatto during his weekly press conference, “Kita ug ang Gobernador” at the People’s Mansion in Tagbilaran City on Friday.
According to Chatto, the province and its communities have proven themselves to be effective against armed groups when ten Abu Sayyaf bandits slipped into the province in April last year and were quickly neutralized a month after by government troops with the help of tips from civilian informants.
“We can respond the same way we responded last year agtong nahitabo sa Abu Sayaff,” Chatto said. “Og naa man gani estranghiro nga mi-abot dinhi sa lalawigan sa Bohol gikan sa gawas unya mo-attempt og disturb sa kahusay ug kalinaw, mo-hanyo lang mi na ayaw mo diri sa Bohol ky ang mga taw dinhi mura’g si Dagohoy—buotan pero mo-sukol.”
The governor also thanked residents for actively relaying reports on suspicious personalities and activities in their respective areas to government authorities.
Chatto said that state security forces have been receiving information on movements of suspicious individuals including recent tips which indicated that NPA members have been visiting houses in the town of Sevilla in efforts to gain sympathy from villagers.
The police and military, however, are still validating these reports, he added.
Earlier, Colonel Ignacio Madriaga, commander of the Bohol-based 302nd Infantry Brigade, said that the province still meets the requirements needed to be deemed insurgency-free.
“Na-meet pa rin ng Bohol ang mga conditions para maging insurgency free, for example iilan lang na mga barangay ang may report na NPA, and the numbers of armed group roaming around is very low,” he said.
However, Madriaga admitted the presence of NPA organizers in the province and projected that the communist group would maintain efforts to reestablish presence in the province.
“Bohol will always be threatened, they will always try to regain their influence here so nag-attempt sila na i-contact mga dati nilang kasama,” he said.
Police and military personnel, in turn, have reportedly been deployed to conduct patrols in remote areas of the province, including Sevilla’s hinterlands where NPA members were allegedly spotted.
Meanwhile, Madriaga called on NPA rebels to consider Bohol’s vigilance against insurgents and active participation in reporting suspicious activities as signs that residents are in favor of peace in pushing progress in the province.
“Sa mga kaibigan natin na armado, na nasa rebolusyon, pakinggan ninyo ang collective voice, collective desire ng mga ating kababayan na Bol-anon na nagsasabi na ‘gusto namin ng tahimik na buhay, ayaw na namin ng armas, ayaw na namin ng kaguluhan’ kaya sana makipagtulungan nalang sila,” said Madriaga. (A. Doydora)