The Philippine Army (PA) has confirmed that the top commander of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Bohol Domingo “Cobra” Compoc is still in the province leading the rebel group’s armed force in the island, but was not among those who clashed with state forces in Bilar earlier this week.
It was confirmed that the NPA lost one of its ranking officers Romeo Nabas during the Army-NPA encounter in Cabacnitan, Bilar on May 25 but First Lt. Grace Remonde, spokesperson of the PA’s 47th Infantry Battalion, noted that Compoc is still alive and was not spotted during the clash.
“Negative si Compoc adto,” she said.
According to Remonde, the NPA force operating in the hinterlands of Bilar and Batuan is under Compoc’s command.
Remonde said that Nabas who was slain along with four other rebels during the dawn gun battle in Bilar was among Compoc’s top officers.
“Mas taas si Compoc niya [Nabas], overall commander man g’yud si Compoc sa entiro Bohol,” said Remonde.
Nabas was the vice commanding officer of SYP Platoon of the NPA’s Bohol Party Committee.
Meanwhile, Nabas’ two brothers are still alive and are also considered as ranking officials in Compoc’s unit.
“Tulo na sila ka Nabas, then si Romeo namatay na so duha nalang sila. Armado na silang mga Nabas unya ang ilang usa ka igsuon na babaye is a member of Karapatan Visayas, legal front nila,” Remonde said.
Compoc who has a P2.6 million bounty on his head is facing a string of charges including rebellion, homicide, attempted homicide, theft, multiple murder, frustrated murder and robbery.
Remonde said that under the command of Compoc and Nabas, the NPA ramped up its recruitment efforts.
“Sige to sila, kusog kaayo ilang recruitment,” she said on the NPA’s recruitment drive prior to the clash.
However, it remains to be seen whether or not the NPA’s recruitment will slow down following the fatal encounter which left five of its members dead.
“Sa karon na bag-o pa ang encounter, dili pa ta ka assess pero never mana sila mo undang,” she added.
The gun battle between personnel of the 47th IB and some 11 rebels in Bilar last Tuesday was the deadliest in recent years.
It left five rebels dead, including an 18-year-old woman, and one soldier injured.
The fatalities were identified as Joseph Bautista alias Bryan, 33 of Inabanga; Nabas alias Marlon, 54, from Batuan; Marvin Terig alias Chris, 22, from Danao; Junrey Bucar alias Justin, 20, from Bilar; and Edionela Nuera alias Mia, 18, from Trinidad, all in Bohol.
The troops from 47th IB recovered from the clash site two M16 rifles; five .45-caliber pistols, a bandolier, three short magazines of M16 with 30 rounds of ammunition, six cellular phones, a laptop, a grenade, a hand-held radio, and various subversive documents with high intelligence value.
The previous Army-NPA clash that left fatalities was also in Bilar.
The brief gun battle at the boundary of the villages of Cambigsi and Cansumbol in March, 2020 led to the deaths of one rebel and one PA soldier. (with a report from R. Tutas)