The intelligence unit of the Bohol Provincial Police Office (BPPO) recovered firearms and a grenade and apprehended a suspected member of the New People’s Army (NPA) during a raid in Batuan on Friday afternoon, four days after alleged communist guerrillas carried out a fatal ambush against civilians in the town.
Armed with a search warrant, operatives of the Provincial Intelligence Unit together with the Special Action Force and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group raided a house in Barangay Rizal, Batuan leading to the arrest of Alfio Sarsale, 40.
They seized a .45 caliber pistol with six live rounds, an air gun, an MK2 hand grenade, eight .357 bullets, and two rifle scopes.
The operatives also found subversive documents.
A high-ranking intelligence officer who spoke on condition of anonymity told the Chronicle that Sarsale is still being investigated for involvement in the gun attack allegedly perpetrated by NPA insurgents against civilians on Monday.
The ambush in Sitio Canduwing, Barangay Aloha in Batuan left two dead and two injured. All four were identified as former members of the armed communist group.
“Amo pang pa himuan og thorough investigation na, epa-validate pa pud namo sa adtong mga witness didto sa nahitabo og apil ba ni siya,” the police official said.
Sarsale was noted to have been holding items and firearms for the rebel group based on surveillance conducted prior to the arrest.
“Mura ni siya og gigamit na binlanan sa ilang mga gamit. Dihay pud miy nakita na mga first aid kit, mga syringe, gauze, bandage,” he said.
Sarsale is now detained at the Alburquerque Police Station pending the filing of charges against him.
He is set to be charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
According to the source, the NPA in Batuan is gaining support from some residents of the town and is on the “early stage of rebuilding” its mass base in the town.
“Strong lang ang support sa mga taw na nangahadlok sa ilaha, mao na atong gipangusgan ron na atong kuhaon ang dughan sa mga taw,” he said.
Bohol was once deemed a hotbed for communist insurgency until the early 2000s before it was declared insurgency free in 2010.
While authorities still consider the province to be free from insurgency, there have been reported encounters between state forces and alleged NPA rebels in the past three years.
The reported clashes erupted in far-flung villages in Batuan and Bilar.