Army still validates armed men sightings

A top military officer commanding the province’s sole battalion reiterates, Bohol is still insurgency free and insists the reports surfacing about the sightings of armed men still need to be validated.

Speaking at the Kapihan sa PIA, 47th Infantry Battalion commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Joel Malig said units under him are currently undergoing intensified intelligence operations along with other allied units to confirm and escalate these reports into A1 information.

As this goes on, the military explains that reports which are shared in council meetings have one intent: to make sure the communities would know about these reported sightings of armed men to engage them into help verify and add the details necessary to make positive confirmation.

“We urge the continuing support of Boholanos as we ask them to remain vigilant,” he engages communities.

Col. Malig insists that there is so much that communities can do to help keep Bohol insurgent and insurgency-free.
While the sighting reports continue to be staple in peace and order councils and their meetings, 47IB clarified: they can’t also downplay these intelligence reports.

Information also reaching authorities detail how other armed groups reportedly do extortion activities using the New People’s Army to sow fear and thus exact money easily.

“Not all reports of armed men sighted can be NPAs, they may be goods or common bands of criminals,” Col. Malig hinted during the forum also attended by guests from the Philippine Military Academy.

Nevertheless, he also subtly implied that reports about sightings would continue to be validated as they could come as long as the Philippines is not insurgency free.

“The threat remains,” he stressed even as the battalion commander explains that there are still provinces near Bohol which continue to struggle against insurgents.

He shared that as long as there are military operations against insurgents in nearby provinces, dispersion of these belligerent groups undermining the economies and development of a community continue to be real threats.

If the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) who were over 500 kilometers away came in to Bohol, there is no reason why the rebels from nearby islands could not, Col Malig argued.

On this, he cited the effects of insurgency in Bohol’s development.

During the times when Bohol was still haunted by insurgency problems, its poverty incidence came at 51%, he pointed out.

Years later, after the 2010 declaration of Bohol as insurgency-free, poverty incidence went down to 21.7%, with a little over 7 years of peace and progress.

As the internal security operators struggle continue to bring poverty incidence down by making sure the province remains to be insurgency-free, he also adds, Boholanos should also do the same by not allowing the rebels to sow fear and put communities under the gripping fear.

It has happened with the ASG, and the incursion was short lived because communities worked to keep the trouble away, the military official said. (PIA)

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