CentCom condemns NPAs for ambush of peace volunteers in Bohol

SAMBAYANAN MEMBERS DO IT BETTER. Sambayanan members, mostly rebel returnees, possess the convincing power of coming to the discussion than the language of firearms. Here, a rebel returnee talks about how the NPAs manipulate situations to leverage for emotional support from poor communities who can feed them. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)  

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, May 2 (PIA) -- The Central Command (CentCom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Boholano peace-loving communities condemned the atrocities committed by the Communist Party of the Philippines New Peoples’ Army (CPP-NPA) terrorists who mercilessly attacked and killed unarmed civilian volunteers in Bohol on April 26, 2021. 

In a videotaped statement, CentCom Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Roberto T. Angcan said “the NPA's killing of Sambayanan volunteers Rolando Fornes and Jaime Cagatin and wounding of Michael Hinampas and Antonio Muring only revealed the true nature of the terrorists and bandits masquarading in their schemes.” 

“They were there to talk to the people, because we have realized it is not through arms but through peaceful discussion that we can bring peace and development,” said Bernard Banal, Sambayanan member and team leader of the slain former cadres. 

Banal, who spent eight years in the armed movement, realized the lies he himself used to agitate the people have also exposed the evils of the NPAs. 

He has long rejoined the mainstream and offered his life to amend his past by exposing the schemes of the NPA in gaining the confidence of poor communities they can milk. 

A squad of the communist terrorist NPAs waited the whole afternoon for four former rebels who are now government volunteer members of the Sentrong Alyansa ng Mamamayan para sa Bayan (Sambayanan) who were in a meeting with Purok 5 residents in Brgy. Aloja in Batuan.

Sambayanan, also generally identified as anti-communists group here, is a multi-sectoral alliance formed by former rebels and cadres of the CPP-NPA-NDF after they returned to the fold of the law. 

As Sambayanan pushes for genuine peace and development in support of Executive Order No. 70 signed by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte in December 2018, the former rebels were exposing the evil ways of the NPAs to convince the masses to withdraw their support and resist the terrorists as a means to end local communist armed conflict (ELCAC). 

From the meeting, when the volunteers were to go home on board two motorcycles to the next town Carmen, they were waylaid at a lonely stretch of the road not far from their meeting venue a little past 5:00 p.m. 

The first motorcycle driver, Rolando Fornes, was hit but managed to escape from being pinned by the motorcycle.

His back rider, Michael Hinampas, dove off to the roadside bushes and managed to stay away from the line of fire into safety.

SAMBAYANAN TEAM LEADER. Then an active rebel, Bernard Banal is now one of the most vocal campaigners against the rebel's lies and their terroristic acts. He said what they are doing has hurt the communist terrorists that they are desperate to hold the line of their men. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)   

Upon the second shot, Jaime Cagatin, who drove the second motorcycle a few meters behind with Antonio Muring in tandem, were hit and crashed.

Cagatin was hit in his feet while Muring was hit in the arm. Both were still able to maneuver to safety, but only Muring managed to move away where he sought high ground to call for help.

From their vantage points, the surviving former rebels saw how the communist terrorists finished off Fornes and Cagatin, who were unarmed civilians.

“In my assessment, the NPAs are hurt by what we at Sambayanan are doing and Boholanos are now rejecting them. They desperately want to regain the fear by putting on tactical offensives with police, army or any state authority,” Banal said.

Survivors have allegedly identified the perpetrators and authorities are now pursuing those leads.

“We shall see to it that the NPA terrorists responsible for this dastardly attacks shall be brought to justice,” vowed Angcan, adding that the Philippine Army mourns the deaths of the peace workers and that they are assisting the families in laying their dead to final rest.

He also assured: "Your Central Command fully supports the people and the development initiatives of our dear stakeholders in providing genuine peace and security to communities, not only in Bohol but also for the whole Visayas as we to put an end to this local communist armed conflict." (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)

Source: Philippines Information Agency (pia.gov.ph)

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