A still undetermined number of armed men believed to have been New People’s Army (NPA) rebels fired their high-powered weapons at a newly established training base located in a heavily vegetated village in Batuan town at dawn on Saturday.
This was confirmed by Police Lieutenant Leo Sumaoy, officer-in-charge of the Batuan Police Station, based on the report made by Army 1st Lt. Marion Ferrer, team leader of the unit stationed at the camp.
According to Sumaoy, the armed men fired at the Philippine Army’s Jungle Training Base at past 5 a.m. hitting a tarpaulin which was printed with the Army camp’s name.
There were no casualties due to the gunfire which lasted for about 10 minutes.
“As reported by the Philippine Army, ganinang buntag sa may 5:10 a.m. dihay mga buto-buto kuno na sila ang gitumbok pero wala silay nakita na mga taw,” said Sumaoy.
Army soldiers were not able to establish visual contact with the armed men due to the dense forest cover.
Shortly after the brief gun attack, they recovered from the scene 15 spent shells from an M16 and eight from an AK-47, both high-powered rifles.
Sumaoy said that the gunshots were also confirmed by the barangay captain of Rizal but there were no reported sightings of armed men in the village.
According to Sumaoy, the village and the rest of the town remained peaceful following the incident.
“Padayon ra man sila sa ilang mga panginabuhian diri pero natinga ra g’yud sila ganina nganong dunay buto-buto na ingon adto,” he said.
On October 24, a gunfight erupted between soldiers of the Army’s 47th Infantry Battalion and an armed group believed to have been comprised of at least four men also in Rizal, Batuan.
It remained unconfirmed whether or not they were NPA rebels but the Army suspected that the gunmen may have been members of the group of suspected high-ranking NPA commander Domingo “Cobra” Compoc.
“Posibli. Wa may lain grupo na galihok-lihok karon,” said 1st Lieutenant Elma Grace Remonde, civil military officer of the 47th Infantry Battalion (IB), in an earlier interview.
Remonde also did not discount the possibility that Compoc himself was among the estimated four gunmen who engaged state forces in a gunfight.
The area of the brief encounter was located less than five kilometers away from Campagao, Bilar where suspected armed insurgents believed to have been led by Compoc clashed with the same battalion in May, 2018.
Bohol has been considered insurgency-free for almost a decade.
There have been numerous reported sightings of unidentified armed men across Bohol in recent years but authorities have maintained that these were at insignificant levels.