Goal is to quell insurgency in EV in six months
PALO, Leyte-More than 1,000 soldiers are to augment the fight of government forces in the region with the goal to completely crush its insurgency problem.
On Monday (Feb.20) half of that number arrived on their way to Northern Samar province where most of the members of the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels are operating and four of the five remaining communist fronts are based.
The soldiers, belonging to the 74th Infantry Battalion (IB) headed by Lt.Col. Jose Roy Manuel Dizon and 42nd IB, under the command of Lt. Col. Peter Garceniego, were from Mindanao who fought against the Abu Sayyaf group and the ISIS-Maute group.
The other half of the 1,000 additional forces are expected to arrive in the region within this week and also to be under the command of the 803rd Infantry Brigade in Catarman, Northern Samar.
They were welcomed by Major Gen. Camilo Ligayo, the commanding officer of the 8th Infantry Division, at the ‘Araw Camp’ at the Government Center, this town.
The deployment in Eastern Visayas, particularly in Northern Samar, of these additional forces will be a big boost in their campaign against the communist armed group by dismantling their guerilla fronts and free their remaining ‘influence’ barangays, Ligayo said.
“This division is in the winning momentum in dismantling the four active guerilla fronts in the area of operations. Thus, an additional force would be great as we continue to strike hard on the communist terrorist groups and will shorten the time in attaining strategic victory and to finally put an end to this insurgency,” he said during the arrival of the soldiers.
Aside from the deployment of the two battalions, the Army’s elite force, the members of the 21st Scout Ranger Company belonging to the elite force of 4th Scout Ranger Battalion arrived in the region on Feb.17 as an additional force to help end the decades-long insurgency problem in the region.
Also, the 8th ID has an additional force of more than 500 with newly-trained soldiers who are also to help fight against the rebels.
Ligayo said that he is confident that with additional forces their target to finally quell the rebels will be accomplished within the next six months of this year.
He also expressed his gratitude to their national headquarters for pouring in additional forces to the region to attain the goal.
Meantime, Cpt. Jefferson Mariano, the division’s head of public affairs office, said that while they are determined to quell the armed rebellion, they will continue to provide humanitarian activities in the villages.
“They are here for the peace and development, but because of the geographical location of the 8th ID which is we are along the storm path that would be their second concern, the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR),” he said.
“Part of their training was HADR,” Mariano said.
HADR response includes search and rescue and relief assistance distribution during times of calamity and disasters.
JOEY A. GABIETA/ROEL T. AMAZONA