By Rey Anthony Chiu, PIA-Bohol | 11:45 PM April 04, 2021
Bohol Vice Gov. Rene Relampagos has sought clarification from police and military authorities in Central Visayas on the “red area” tag of Bohol.
This came after the Philippine National Police (PNP) during its briefing with the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) late last year placed Bohol and Negros Oriental as the region’s “red” areas.
Relampagos, who represented Gov. Arthur Yap during the online meeting, wanted to be clear about the meaning of “red area,” making certain whether Bohol is already an area recovered by the Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs), or is still a target for recovery.
By CTGs, authorities also mean the Communist Peoples Party-National Democratic Front’s armed terrorists of the New People’s Army (NPA).
On this, Regional Intelligence Chief Police Lt. Col. Robert Lingbawan said the tag of Bohol as a red area is unlike that of the case of Negros Oriental.
Lingbawan explained that what the Regional Police Office 7 has on Bohol are monitored recovery efforts of the CTGs with the presence of armed groups in two municipalities, hence the tagging.
Over this, Relampagos asked authorities to be careful in tagging the whole of Bohol as a red area as this may send a wrong message and affect Bohol’s promotion as a major tourism area.
The former governor, congressman and now Sangguniang Panlalawigan presiding officer, further argued that since Bohol was declared insurgency-free, reports of the presence of CTGs or initiatives by CTGs to recover certain areas could not serve as basis for the red area tag.
The regional intelligence officer explained that the red area tag is intended to mean the monitored presence of armed components of CTGs in Bilar, Bohol.
Relampagos expressed his intent of asking authorities to be careful in tagging the entire province as red area as this can make people feel unsafe and afraid.
RPOC-7 Chair Mayor Oscar Labella re-echoed Relampagos’ concern as he reminded everyone to be circumspect in making sweeping statements.
Regional authorities said the red-area tag for Bohol is apparently more of allowing government forces keep their defensive stance against any effort of the communist terrorist groups (CTG) to reestablish their lost positions here.
“Bohol has always been a target for recovery by the CTG after it has been successfully cleared of armed insurgents in the mid-2000s. Ever since, the government security forces took a defensive stance against the CTG for any attempt to re-establish their influence,” explained Police Lt. Col. Glenn Mayam who gave the briefing in behalf of Police Brigadier Gen. Ronnie Montejo.
The recent encounter, including the discovery of an encampment late last year, only shows their attempt to recover Bohol will never prosper.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines and PNP will always be there to protect the people of Bohol, Mayam assured during the online meeting held Dec. 3, 2020.
Cebu City and the cities of Lapulapu and Mandaue, including Cebu Province, and Siquijor are now the region’s “white” areas.
During the last quarter meeting of the RPOC, authorities learned that Central Visayas has four operational CTG guerilla fronts, namely: Central Negros (CN1), CN2, Southeastern Front (SEF) and Bohol Party Committee.
These all belong to the Komiteng Rehiyon Negros, Cebu, Bohol Siqiijor (KR NCBS).
During the security and threat assessment, the region’s internal security operators reported the eventual dismantling of the SEF, which operated in the mountains of Siaton-Santa Catalina, Negros Oriental.
The combination of focused law enforcement and military combat operations led military authorities to dismantle the SEF of the NPA in Negros, according to Mayam.
One of the greatest legacies of the PNP in Central Visayas, and probably in the campaign against insurgency, is Oplan Sauron.
The police officer claimed Oplan Sauron and its subsequent operations caused a significant damage in the reputation, credibility and power of the CPP-NPA-NDF in Negros Oriental, which led to the dismantling of the SEF, one of the guerilla fronts in the island.
In their assessment, internal security operators in Central Visayas said the dismantling of SEF is a big blow to the KR-NCBS, and they think an attempt to recover it is impending. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)