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NPA Raid in Batuan, Bohol in 1999
« on: October 11, 2017, 01:30:53 PM »
Rebels backed by Bohol folks-PNP
By Froilan Galardo, PDI Visayas Bureau
and Dave Veridiano

TAGBILARAN CITY--Fighting the New People's Army here is not an easy
task, with residents actively supporting the insurgents.
The Philippine National Police and the military learned this as they
launched yesterday a province-wide operation to rescue two hostages and
recover at least 80 high-powered firearms seized by the rebels in
Friday's raid in Batuan town.

As of yesterday noon, soldiers and policemen had yet to find the NPA
rebels who attacked the camp of the Seventh Regional Mobile Police-
Combat Support Co. in Barangay Rizal, Batuan, 60 km from this capital.

The rebels were believed to have fled to the hinterlands of Bohol.

Deputy Director Gen. Edmundo Larroza, acting PNP chief, said the police
camp was surrounded by residents already ''hostile to the government.''

''They gave the rebels good intelligence (information) about the
camp,'' he told the Inquirer. ''They actually support them.''

He said the empty cans of sardines and stale puso (rice wrapped in
coconut leaves) found by the police near the camp indicated that some
residents knew of the rebels' presence beforehand but did not report
the information to the police.

Larroza arrived here yesterday morning with Maj. Gen. Victor Garcia,
chief of the Armed Forces Visayas Command.

The raid was the biggest and most daring operation conducted by the
rebels since peace negotiations between the rebels and the government
were terminated last month.


Defection
Police and military officials agreed that the recent defection of
Batuan Vice Mayor Jaime Decasa was a major boost to the insurgents.

But Senior Insp. Diones Ejoc, the Batuan police chief, said Decasa is
well-loved by at least 80 percent of Batuan residents.

The vice mayor apparently joined the rebels in March 22, after he was
accused of involvement in killing a supporter of a rival candidate.

Decasa comes from a prominent political family in Batuan. His great-
grandfather was instrumental in having Batuan raised to the status of a
town. His grandfather, uncles and father alternately served as town
mayor.

Supt. Leonardo Espina, chief of the Criminal Investigation and
Detection Group in Central Visayas, said the police had already
identified some of the residents who supported the rebels.


Criminal charges
The names of the residents will be included in the criminal charges
that the police were set to file against the rebels for attacking the
police camp, he added.

Supt. Mario Potot, chief of the defunct Bohol PNP task force, said the
police had long suspected that the residents were not on their side.

He said he organized four cooperatives in April in Barangay Rizal in an
effort to win the support of the residents.

Larroza said he disbanded the Bohol PNP task force because the Army had
taken over the task of hunting down the rebels and containing
insurgency in Bohol.

The task force was changed to a composite team of 200 soldiers from the
Army's Special Forces and two companies of PNP Special Action Force
from Camp Crame in Manila headed by Col. Gilbert Cayton of the Armed
Forces Visayas Command.

Cayton said the team had already sealed the coastal towns of Ubay,
Tubigon and Loay to prevent the rebels from escaping to Cebu or
northern Mindanao.

Cayton said the team was also checking the numerous caves found in the
mountains of central Bohol.


Retraining
In Manila, the 37 members of the combat support unit of the PNP earlier
relieved after the raid were also ordered to undergo a total retraining
program yesterday.

Larroza ordered the retraining after his brief visit to the police camp
in Bohol.

He ordered the retraining of the entire contingent of the Seventh
Regional Mobile Group Combat Support Company, including its chief,
Insp. Richard Caballero, while the men are being investigated by the
Regional Internal Affairs Office for possible security lapses.

Larroza advised other PNP units not to let their guards down, and all
PNP field commanders to review and implement their security plans.


Daring raid
According to a report sent to Camp Crame, the rebels, clad in
camouflage military uniforms, arrived at the headquarters of the
contingent at about 7:30 a.m.

The rebels rode on two Besta vans with Department of Interior and Local
Government markings.

One of the raiders, clad in a barong Tagalog and accompanied by three
women and fatigue-clad men who introduced themselves as soldiers,
alighted from one of the vans and requested to see the detachment's
first sergeant.

Upon entering the detachment, the rebels then trained their guns on the
policemen and raided the armory where they carted away police and
military weapons, including an M60 light machine-gun, three M60 grenade
launchers, a 60-mm mortar and assorted rounds of ammunition.

The rebels also took several police uniforms and three portable
communication radios.

Before escaping, they took into their custody two policemen, PO2 Ariel
Espinido and PO1 Joselito Catabas.

The raiders fled towards Barangay Hanopol in Balilihan town.

Not a shot was fired during the raid. Members of the police detachment
were left unhurt.

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