Vigilant residents have once again played a crucial role in tracking down lawless elements in Bohol by pointing authorities to the location of alleged high-ranking New People’s Army (NPA) commander Domingo “Cobra” Compoc in Bilar, a little over a year after local tipsters provided valuable information to government security forces leading to the neutralization of 11 Abu Sayyaf bandits who infiltrated the province in April, 2017.
“Feeling secure si [Compoc], but he found out na hindi pala, kasi ang mga nagsumbong sa kanya yung mga kababayan niya diyan sa Bilar,” said Colonel Ignacio Madriaga, commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade. “It indicates na talagang kababayan niya mismo, ayaw na din sa activity niya at yung objective niya na ibalik ang armado dito sa Bohol.”
According to Madriaga, Compoc has been going around the remote villages of Bilar and nearby towns as part of the NPA’s efforts to re-establish a stronghold in the province which has been considered insurgency-free for over a decade.
Compoc was previously operating in Negros Island but was sent to Bohol to regain influence with the help of his roots in the province, said Madriaga.
Authorities on Tuesday were alerted by several villagers on the sighting of Compoc in Barangay Campagao, Bilar but the alleged rebel leader was able to flee with his “security force” following an hour-long gun battle with Philippine Army troops at dawn on the same day.
Prior to the clash, the last encounter between state security forces and the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines in Bohol was 11 years ago, said Madriaga.
However, Madriaga pointed out that the encounter did not affect the insurgency-free status of Bohol as he noted that the province still meets requirements to be considered free from insurgents.
“I assure you, ang ating mga kababayan, that the conditions that made Bohol insurgency-free are still in place, are still valid and the condition of Bohol is improving in terms of economic development and progress,” he said.
Madriaga, acknowledging Bohol’s tradition of celebrating fiestas, also said that Boholanos should also not hold back in participating in festivities as he assured safety for the public.
“Sa ating mga kababayan sa Bohol, tuloy lang ang ating pag-fiesta, wag nating pabayaan na masira ang ating kasihayan,” added Madriaga. “Kung matatakot tayo, di nanalo na yung mga armadong grupo na nanakot sa’tin. So wala tayong dapat ikatakot. Yung armed forces at PNP, sa tulong ninyo, will keep Bohol insurgency-free.”
The clash between government troops and the alleged rebel group erupted in Bilar during the town’s fiesta.
May has unofficially been dubbed as Bohol’s “fiesta season” with hundreds of village and town fiestas celebrated across the province during the entire month.