The National Democratic Front (NDF) in Bohol has claimed that its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), was responsible for the attack on a military base in Batuan and the killing of a militiaman in the adjacent town of Bilar, after weeks of unconfirmed speculation on who were behind the offensives.
NDF Bohol media liaison officer Jose Ignacio, in a statement issued on December 19 several days before the 51st anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines on December 26, called the attacks as “forewarnings” to the Armed Forces of the Philippine (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP).
On November 23, the suspected rebels launched an apparent harassment attack by firing at the Philippine Army Jungle Base Training Camp in Barangay Rizal, Batuan. No one was injured but police said that they found spent shells fired from M16 and AK47 rifles near the camp while a tarpaulin bannering the base’s name was hit by a bullet.
“The New People’s Army – Bohol harassed the Philippine Army Jungle Base Training Camp in Barangay Rizal, Batuan while its installation is underway as a strong forewarning to the fascist military forces,” Ignacio said.
The NDF also claimed to have been behind the killing of Crisanto “Santo” Dela Cruz, a member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU), the civilian paramilitary unit of the Army, in Bilar on December 15.
However, Ignacio denied that the NPA had a hand in the ambush of Cabacnitan, Batuan Barangay Councilor Dario Batoon who was shot at by armed men in the said village on November 26. Batoon who was hit in the leg survived the attack.
Police tagged murder fugitives Gregorio Budiongan and Leo Hingpit who they initially believed to have been NPA rebels as among the alleged gunmen, but Ignacio denied any links with the two men.
“The New People’s Army has no accountability of the said incident. Moreover, Gregorio Budiongan and Leo Hingpit, the presumed suspects of the attempted murder of Batoon, are not and were never members of the New People’s Army – Bohol,” Ignacio said.
The military has been suspecting the NPA of being behind several attacks and encounters against state troops in Bohol in the past years but previous statements from Army leaders in the province have remained as speculations.
Local authorities have also maintained that Bohol remains insurgency-free, almost a decade after its initial declaration in 2010.
The CPP celebrates its founding anniversary on December 26, placing the military and the PNP on heightened alert nationwide for possible offensives by communist insurgents, who have been noted to launch attacks against government troops during and on days surrounding their celebration.
A ceasefire was declared between the government and the CPP-NPA-NDF during the Christmas season, but police and military in Bohol have implemented heightened security measures nonetheless.
The NPA has also been accused of breaking the holiday truce after suspected communist guerrillas ambushed policemen and soldiers in separate attacks in Iloilo and Camarines Norte provinces earlier this week.