Both the Philippine Army and the Bohol Provincial Police Office (BPPO) have yet to verify if the claims supposedly made by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) – Bohol that their armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), was behind offensives launched against government troops in the past two months were indeed from the leftist group.
Doubts were raised even after the claims made by the NDF Bohol were already posted on the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) website, Philippine Revolution Web Central or cpp.ph. The site has been repeatedly cited by national news organizations including the Philippine Star and The Inquirer as the CPP’s website.
According to Lt. Grace Remonde, public information officer of the Army’s 47th Infantry Battalion, the CPP-NPA-NDF in the past has been sending statements claiming responsibility for attacks through hard copies, not through online means.
The last instance cited by Remonde however was way back in 2017.
“Pareho adtong 2017 na ingon sila na nangharras sila og detachment nagpadala sila og letter sa akong opisina,” she said.
The statement issued by NDF media liaison officer Jose Ignacio was posted on the CPP’s website on December 19, but Remonde said that they are still not crediting the statement as legitimately from the leftist group as of December 27.
For his part, BPPO director Col. Jonatahan Cabal in an interview on December 26 said that he was also unaware of the week-old statement issued by the CPP-NPA-NDF on the NPA’s purported activities in Bohol.
“As of now, wala pa akong officially nabasa na report na inako nila. Taliwas yun sa kanilang organization, democratic front. Eh mali yun, dapat nakikiisa sila sa peace and development sa Bohol,” he said.
Like Remonde, he also cast doubt over the legitimacy of the statement.
“I doubt kung sila yan,” he said, noting however that he will still look into the statement to see if it was indeed from the CPP-NPA-NDFP.
“Titingnan ko po yun bukas,” said Cabal.
“Definitely kung inako nila, kung meron man, makakasuhan sila for murder kung malakaslakas loob nila, lumabas sila kung gusto nilang akuhin yung pagpatay ng isang tao, madali naman kaming kausap pwede naman namin ifile yung cases para magkaroon sila ng warrant of arrest,” he added.
In the statement posted on the CPP’s website, Ignacio claimed that the NPA was responsible for the harassment attack on a military base in Batuan and the killing of a militiaman in the adjacent town of Bilar on November 23 and December 15, respectively.
Ignacio called the attacks as “forewarnings” to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP).
“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 CPP-NPA-NDFP meanwhile called the killing of Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit member Crisanto Dela Cruz a “death punishment.”
“Right after the incident, the Red Fighters discussed the grounds on Dela Cruz’s punishment enforced by the revolutionary movement through a mass meeting of the witnesses in a cockpit arena in Barangay Zamora, Bilar where Dela Cruz was executed,” Ignacio added.
The Army and the BPPO’s doubts came also even after the police chiefs of Bilar and Batuan Lieutenant Ramon Rulona and Lieutenant Leo Sumaoy, respectively, earlier speculated that the perpetrators of both attacks may have been NPA rebels.
Remonde herself earlier acknowledged the possible presence of NPA rebels in the Bilar area. This was after a clash between the 47th IB and a four-man armed group in the town in late October, as she noted that the gunmen may have been communist insurgents, possibly members of the group of NPA commander Domingo “Cobra” Compoc. (A. Doydora)