TEMPORARY ENCAMPMENT. Troopers of the Philippine Army’s 48th Infantry Battalion recovered a firearm and other items after an encounter with New People's Army rebels in Bilar, Bohol on Saturday (July 8, 2023). Brig. Gen. Joey Escanillas, 302nd Infantry Brigade commander, said the NPA's Bohol Party Committee has been dismantled but with remnants still being monitored. (Photo courtesy of the Philippine Army)

DUMAGUETE CITY – The military on Tuesday vowed to continue without letup its offensive operations against the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Bohol after the clash in Bilar town over the weekend.

Brig. Gen. Joey Escanillas, the Army’s 302nd Infantry Brigade (302Bde) commander based in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental, said that while the NPA’s Bohol Party Committee (BPC) is already dismantled, there are still remnants who must be prevented from recruiting new members.

“These (rebels) will not cease from recovering their lost ground and from organizing, so we are closely monitoring them so that they could no longer recover,” Escanillas told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) here in an interview.

He said the dismantled BPC front now has about seven to nine remaining members who are “on the run” as government troops continue to pursue them.

On July 8, troopers of the Army’s 47th Infantry Battalion (47IB) figured in a 10-minute encounter with the remnants of the BPC in the hinterlands of Barangay Dagohoy in Bilar.

Lt. Col. Magno Mapalad, the 47IB commander, said the clash took place after civilians reported the presence of armed men in the area.

Recovered from the encounter site were a loaded .45-caliber pistol, assorted ammunition for an AK-47 rifle, an M16 rifle, and a .45-caliber pistol, personal belongings, tents, medical paraphernalia, food packs, and subversive documents.

The encounter site is described as a temporary encampment of the BPC remnants as they no longer stay in one place for longer periods.

“We cannot be complacent because they still can reorganize and recover, and actually, we are focusing on some white areas or urban works where the NPA is conducting resource generation operations,” Escanillas said.

He noted that so long as the rebels are allowed to continue generating resources, its armed component would continue to exist.

Meanwhile, the military said operations are ongoing in the area of responsibility of the Army’s 302Bde on Negros Island until the NPA South West Front is dismantled.

Currently, the guerilla front has weakened with only 17 active combatants. (PNA)