NOTE: This story was first published in The Bohol Chronicle’s Sunday print edition.
Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado of Bohol’s 2nd District has sought the re-deployment to Bohol of the troops of the 302nd Infantry Brigade.
This after Aumentado observed that insurgency in the province is rearing its ugly head again.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Aumentado cited the recent capture in Getafe town of a couple – both alleged commanders of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) – and various sightings of armed men.
He expressed apprehension that the insurgents might re-group and muster the strength again to launch an armed attack on government facilities, extort from private businesses, demand cash in exchange for permits to campaign in “rebel territory” as the next election draws near, or sweet talk farmers whose houses are far from neighbors into giving them cash and/or food in exchange for a “better future” as members of their movement.
The National Democratic Front (NDF), cause-oriented groups that form the propaganda arm of the insurgents fanned out signed press releases that initially saw print in local newspapers and enjoyed airtime over local radio stations.
But time and again, farmers, fisher-folks, and even housewives and the youth proved their sugar-coated promises as false.
Former rebels surrendered to the 302nd Infantry Brigade and the 6th Special Forces Battalion and the 47th Infantry Battalion and even joined the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU).
These “KRs” for Kauban sa Reporma or Kanhi Rebelde, told the media that they were promised: hospital treatment for a sick family member, education for their children, land to till as theirs was supposedly “an equal society”.
One KR admitted that after indoctrination following dinner, and a night hike until early dawn, they arrived at a remote rebel camp where they were issued and “taught the use firearms”.
On several encounters, students and women were also shot because they had carried firearms and aimed at government troops.
The solon said he does not want history to repeat itself.
Quoting his namesake father and congressional predecessor, former governor and former congressman Erico Boyles Aumentado, the younger solon said the civilian government cannot do the task alone.
The father had authored the peace strategy that led to the declaration of Bohol as insurgency free – a two-pronged approach wherein the military wipes out the enemy, and when the smoke of gunfire clears, the civilian government provides livelihood to alleviate poverty.
Bohol used to have, under the operational control of the brigade, one SF battalion, two infantry battalions and the engineering battalion. The other troops have since been transferred, leaving only the 47th IB with headquarters in Cabulijan, Tubigon hence, the Aumentado letter-request to Lorenzana. (June S. Blanco)