EV as a ‘priority area’ fight against NPAs
BY: JOEY A. GABIETA
CATBALOGAN CITY- With President Rodrigo Duterte identifying Eastern Visayas as a ‘priority area,’ the government troops in the region are determined to end its insurgency problem.
And they will accomplish it on or before Mr. Duterte steps down from Malacañang in 2022.
Major General Pio Diñoso III, commanding general of the 8th Infantry Division, based this city, said that as one of the ‘national priority areas’ in crushing the armed movement of the New People’s Army(NPA), they will be given the ‘best’ both in personnel and in assets.
“The President said that Samar (Island) is one of the priority areas meaning we have the support; they will bring in all the best-officials, armor assets, and air assets,” Diñoso, who assumed the post on July 5, said in an interview.
“There is a marching order that before the President steps down, we can at least contain, not necessarily totally eliminate, the insurgency problem to a manageable level and it’s doable,” he said.
The President earlier issued Executive Order 70 which calls for a ‘whole of nation’ approach in ending the insurgency problem of the country.
Samar Island comprises the provinces of (western) Samar, Eastern Samar, and Northern Samar where the presence of the rebel NPA members is still felt and where most of the fire fights involving the government troops and the rebels commonly happens.
It was learned from Diñoso that as part of the campaign, he wanted the return of two battalions belonging to the 8th ID to the region that are now detailed in Mindanao to help quell the terror groups operating there.
These are the 19th IB and the 34th IB, now based in Arakan and Midsayap, both in North Cotabato.
He also said that they also expect to be given at least two choppers out of the 32 choppers to be procured by the national government.
The general said that having an air asset, it would now be easy for them to track down the rebels hiding or operating in the mountains.
At present, the 8th ID has two choppers under its Tactical Operations Group (TOG).
Diñoso, meanwhile, asked all local government leaders to support on this campaign of the Duterte administration in addressing the region’s insurgency problem.
“Executive Order 70 is an order issued by the Chief Executive so supporting the order is not an option but mandatory. So the mayors have to follow the President and non-compliance will be dealt with by the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government),” he said.
And so far, there are no leaders from the region like mayors, who appears not to supporting the order, Diñoso said.
Meantime, Diñoso said that as they will strengthen their fight against members of the rebel group, they are conscious in protecting and respecting of the human rights of the civilians who are directly affected in the campaign.
He noted that for the past five years now, there is no complaints of human rights violation against the soldiers, an indication that they value and respect the civilians’ rights.
“In the entire Philippine Army, for the past three to five years, no case of human rights violation have been reported. In our campaign, we respect human rights and we know we will not win in our campaign if we will not respect human rights (of the civilians),” Diñoso said.