Foreigners Injured in Firefight with Philippines NPA and Scottish National Detained without Charges

OK, here’s the second part of last week’s Livecast where I chatter on about a Scotsman allegedly being held without charges and a few foreign nationals that were shot and injured in a firefight between the Philippines National Police and insurgent soldiers of the New People’s Army.

Scotsman Jailed for “Cruelty”

[Please note that most of this information is coming from the detained Scotsman and his fam ily.  The wife’s ‘side’ of the story is not presented here as it is not known.  Also keep in mind that there are three sides to every story: His side, her side, and the actual truth.]

Frank Bohlert, a Scottish national, is being held in a Manila prison after police reportedly showed up on his doorstop and arrested him for ‘cruelty.’  The charges allegedly came from his Filipina wife of six years, Arlyn, who told police that he was mistreating her.  Mr. Bohlert was taken into custody on September 14 by the Philippines National Police (PNP) and is being held in the notoriously nasty Bagong Diwa jail in Taguig, Manila.  He reported that he is staying in a cell with 11 other detainees.  Later reports and photos of his living space (a thin mattress) corroborated this.  Mr. Bohlert stated that he still has not been charged with anything as the police seem to still be investigating the case.  The Scotsman also claimed that a friend of his went to his home to retrieve some personal items, only to find out that everything he had there was gone:  His banking records, check books, cell phone, laptop, immigration documents and car all seem to have vanished.

bohlert in the Taguig prison

Mr. Bohlert later posted on Facebook “I have been illegally detained, no arrest, no charges, no nothing, only allegations against me from HER. Is there no justice in the Philippines!”

The Foreign Office of the UK has been contacted by Bohlert’s family in an attempt to get him out of the grimy prison, in which a number of other foreigners are being detained, most on immigration issues (overstaying), but many of them not even formally charged. A spokesperson from the Foreign Office stated “We are providing support to a British man following his detention in the Philippines on 14 September. We are in contact with local authorities.”

Mr. Bohlert’s stepbrother, Graham, stated “He’s in a tiny cell with a load of others. He’s scared what might happen to him. He’s sleeping on this tiny mattress. Human rights people went in to see them on Tuesday and they were horrified by the conditions.”

Frank Bohlert formerly worked commercially, renting out equipment to oil companies in the northeast of Scotland.  He met his future wife, Arlyn in 2011, and leaving everything behind, followed his dream to the Philippines.  The two of them have run a restobar for a number of years and you can see a photo below of them in their establishment in happier times:

I attempted to contact Frank through his Facebook page, but he has not responded to my friend request. [No one wants to be my friend.] As for his wife Arlyn, she doesn’t seem to a FB account under her married name, and her maiden name is unknown.

OK, so like I noted above, nearly all of this information is the “his side” of the story. At this date and time, I am not even sure if he is still being detained or not as there have been no updates to the story.  Now, there is one issue to this that gets me thinking:  Mr. Bohlert is being held in the Taguig prison, which is usually used to hold foreigners who have overstayed their visas.  Bohlert’s stepbrother also stated that Frank was supposed to go renew his visa on the day that he was taken into custody by the police.  Whether this has anything to do with the ‘rest of the story’ at this point is just conjecture, however.  Although situations like the ones described above do happen from time to time, as foreigners we never want to intentionally put ourselves in a position to be detained by the Philippines police force.  The justice system here is notoriously slow and justice simply isn’t always served.  I have personally visited prisons a few times in the Philippines, and they are definitely not places in which one would wish to linger.


Two Foreigners Injured in PNP/NPA Firefight
Things got interesting quickly for two foreigners and their Filipino driver when they found themselves in the middle of a gun battle between members of the Philippines National Police and insurgent forces of the communist New People’s Army.  Caught in the attack were Juliana Palmero of Brazil, Karl Arvidson of Sweden and Jason Tumayao of the Philippines.  On their way to the idyllic resort town of Sipalay, their car was reportedly following a police vehicle in Cauayan, Negros Occidental that was responding to a robbery.  The five police officers in the lead vehicle were suddenly fired upon by at least 30 armed men concealed off the side of the road.  The foreigner’s vehicle as caught between the two forces and found itself forced off the road where it came to rest in a drainage ditch.

Foreigners’ car in drainage ditch

The firefight lasted about 15 minutes, after which the insurgents suddenly withdrew.  No police officers were hurt and their vehicle only took light damage. 

The two foreigners and their Pinoy driver weren’t as fortunate. Ms. Palmero received a gunshot to her shoulder and Mr. Arvidson was struck by a bullet in his left wrist.  Their Filipino driver fared even worse, being hit in the stomach, thigh and face.  All victims were brought to a Bacolod City hospital where they were treated and are reportedly recovering.

ambushed police vehicle

A few blood trails indicated that some of the NPA soldiers were injured and a number of spent AK-47 and M-16 rounds were rounded up at the ambush site.  According to police at the time, a ‘hot pursuit’ of the suspects was ongoing.

npa soldiers in 1986

This comes as continued bad news in regards to the NPA and our island of Negros.  In their last major attack, the NPA were able to ambush and kill six police officers on the other side of the island, an incident that I covered in a past article – to read that, please click.

Sipalay is hands down my favorite place to chill out on Negros.  Sugar Beach is just north of the Sipalay “City,” and with no cars or motorbikes (only boat access), a lovely white sand beach and a number of groovy little resorts, it is a very popular destination for (mostly European) tourists.

sugar beach resort area, sipalay


So, those are the two incidents that I didn’t include in the last Livecast.  Don’t forget that my weekly Livecasts on You Tube are conducted every Wednesday morning at 9 AM Manila time.

Thanks and be well!!


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