NOTE: This story was first published in The Bohol Chronicle’s Wednesday print edition.
The New People’s Army (NPA) has long lost Bohol stronghold and the recent clash with government troops sent the message.
Bohol is now on full alert to crush remnants of the NPA who had repeatedly failed in their recovery efforts over the years because of the strong support of the people to the government.
Col. Jerry Borja, the commander of the Joint Task Force Cebu-Bohol-Siquijor, said that the clash on Saturday morning between government troops and remnants of the NPA was a result of support of the civilians who reported the presence of suspicious armed men.
The report from the civilians prompted the military to conduct patrol operations.
“This is a result of the reports from the civilians about the presence of the armed men. That’s why we conducted the patrol operations,” according to Borja.
Borja also said the remnants of the NPA are on recovery effort because they had already lost their stronghold in Bohol and are now trying to recruit students.
However, with the cooperation of the civilians, local government units, the military and the police, the remnants of the NPA have been having difficulty.
“In Bohol, we have no (NPA)-influenced barangay. Ang mga NPA, they are on the recovery effort. With the cooperation ng mga LGU, civilians, and of course, ng atong army and PNP, na-prevent nato ang ilang tinguha nga ma-recover nila,” Borja said.
There used to be many NPA men in Bohol during their heyday many years ago.
“Di ba sa una, daghang mga NPA diri? Pero karon, ang mga Bol-anon nga mga civilians sila na man maoy mo-report. Ang mga LGU pod are very cooperative. Kaning result sa operation, kaning engkwentro resulta nga ang mga government agencies, ang civilians, the army and the PNP- -they prevented the recovery effort,” Borja added.
In fact, the remaining NPA stragglers had scampered after the clash and seemed to have nowhere to go as civilians had reported sightings of them in three trying to gate-crash in a barrio wedding reception just to get food and had been described to be exhausted, drained and hungry.
According to reports, the folks at the gathering avoided them and stayed away from them.
Now, that the NPA had lost their strongholds, they are trying to regain Bohol.
However, the fervor for the leftists had long died down and by this time, there is no single barangay in Bohol categorized as a rebel-influenced barangay.
Borja explained that categorized as influenced barangays are those where the NPA has political organization and armed organization.
The youths are also warned from joining any militant group because it will only lead them into joining the rebel group and their future will be destroyed.
The remnants of the NPA would go to barangays and approach the residents, especially students, to try to recruit supporters.
Both Borja and Acting Police Provincial Director Jonathan Cabal warned that the remnants of the NPA, now left with aged members, will prey on the fertile minds of the youth.
Meanwhile, the armed men, at least 15 of them, who opened fire at patrolling members of the 47th IB of the Philippine Army at the boundary of barangay Cambigsi and Cansumbol in Bilar, were possibly just the forward line of NPA leader, Domingo Compoc.
Compoc, a ranking Boholano NPA leader, used to operate in Negros Oriental.
Now 55, Compoc is a native of barangay Dagohoy in Bilar, has three standing warrants of arrests for murder and rebellion.
Compoc and his wife, Marilyn Badayos- -a native of Cebu, have reportedly been in command of the Negros operation of NPA for around a decade already.
In 2007, Compoc was reported to have been wounded in an encounter with government troops in Bohol.
Compoc could have been tapped to lead the revival attempt of NPA’s strongholds in Bohol and any sign of him in Bohol has been on watch since 2017.
His being a native of Bilar and his previous influence on some groups are factors that are being studied.