TAGBILARAN CITY, June 14 (PIA) — An officer of the Philippine Army (PA) based in Bohol has asked contractors to establish rapport with the community amidst fears that the armed insurgents could escalate their extortion operations to arson.
During the recent joint meeting of the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) and the Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council (PADAC), 47 Infantry Battalion Commander Lieutenant Colonel Eufracio Malig Jr. asked contractors, especially those with projects in far-flung areas. to establish strong rapport with the communities so as to help them secure projects and safety of their construction equipment.
The Army has reportedly called a meeting with local contractors over this concern, said Malig.
Col. Malig, who admitted that they were on the tail of the group of armed men led by a 52 year-old veteran rebel Commander Cobra or Domingo Compoc of Dagohoy Bilar, said they have the group tagged to a location in Bohol.
The opportunity to get to them only presented on May 14, he said.
Army officials confirmed reports from the community about the presence of the armed men, prompting the Army to send a patrol team.
The government troops swooped down on about 20 rebels camped in a forested area near Sitio Maslog, Campagao Bilar early morning of May 15.
After an exchange of gunfire, rebels scattered and retreated to forested areas, leaving behind a scattered stash of subversive documents, firearms, ammunition, hammocks, and medical kits.
At least two government troops were wounded but were not fatally hit during the encounter.
Army intelligence reports shared by the 47 IB bared that about eight of the rebels were wounded when they pulled out for cover from sustained fire from government soldiers that day.
302nd Infantry Brigade Commander Colonel Ignacio Madriaga, in previous reports told media that Compoc and his men were already monitored roaming across the boundaries of Hanopol Balilihan, Batuan, and Bilar towns.
The rebels, believed to be those who fled Bohol in 2010, returned and asked money from barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan candidates, or food from the residents.
Compoc, who allegedly fled from Bohol, then led local insurgents in Negros, which were also tagged in arson cases, when their extortion activities were not heeded by contractors or private companies.
Over this, PPOC Chair Governor Edgar Chatto emphasized safety of equipment as a high priority in Bohol.
The governor asked troops to frequent areas where there are constructions, road repairs, and government infrastructure building activities near the red-flagged areas.
The encounter site is a close proximity to an unfinished Makapiko Bridge construction and road rehabilitation, as well as nearby areas where construction, repair, and rehabilitation of access roads are ongoing.
Over the same concern, Social Action Center (SAC) representative and former Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) Local Monitoring Board representative, Romeo Teruel, disclosed that anytime soon, a Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) project would implement rehabilitation works on access roads leading to production areas.
Through the Integrated Natural Resource and Environment Management Project (INREMP), DENR implements the road access rehabilitation works and this will place heavy equipment in far production areas, according to Teruel.
Over this, Malig urged contractors to establish good relationships with communities in project areas so there would be more eyes to report the presence of suspicious men near construction sites.
If the communities help in reporting the entry of unwanted persons in the areas, if they are noted and reported to authorities, there is a huge chance they could be curtailed of their intentions, Malig said.
In the past, communist insurgents also torched vehicles from private individuals and burned heavy equipment if those they exact revolutionary taxes from would not give in to their demands. (rmn/rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)
Source: PIA Feed