Police force conducting a barangay “pulong-pulong” in Brgy. Mahayag to monitor indiviuals who are into illegal drug activity. Additional police forces were deployed in Albuera, Leyte amid rumor that groups would stage attack at the police station where Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. took refuge. (JAZMIN BONIFACIO)

CALBAYOG CITY-Another group of soldiers from the region were deployed to Jolo, Sulu to help fight against the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group. On Wednesday (August 31), soldiers of the 63rd Infantry Battalion left for their new assignment augmenting further the number of soldiers who are already deployed in Sulu. The deployment of the 63rd IB, which is under the command of Lt. Col.Carmelito Pangatungan and based in Las Navas, Northern Samar, was the second group of soldiers from the region to be reassign to fight against the Abu Sayyaf Group. Last May 29, soldiers belonging to the 19th IB, based in Kananga, Leyte, were also deployed to Sulu to help fight against the Abu Sayyaf Group. Pres. Rodrigo Duterte had issued an order to end the terrorism activities of the Abu Sayyaf Group in Mindanao which include abduction of foreigners and seek ransom in the millions of dollars.

Since the heighten campaign against the terrorist group, 15 soldiers have already died with the almost the same number of Abu Sayyaf members also killed. The 63rd IB left for their new assignment on Wednesday with a send-off ceremony held at the Calbayog Airport attended by top officials of the 8th Infantry Division and the 803rd Infantry Brigade. The 300 soldiers left for Sulu via a C-130 military plane.  “Even before we were informed of this assignment I already told my troop of the possibility that we will be assigned there (Sulu),” Pangatungan said. Col. Mario Lacurom, commanding officer of the 803rd IB, assured the public that the peace and order of Northern Samar and part of Samar would not be affected due to the reassignment of the 63rd IB.

“We have enough soldiers to man our peace and order here. Anyway, there is nothing much to worry in so far as our peace and order situation in Northern Samar and parts of Samar,” Lacurom said. The 803rd IB, of which the 63rd IB belongs, has a jurisdiction covering the entire Northern Samar and parts of Calbayog City.  The other battalion under its command is the 20th IB which is based in Catubig, Northern Samar.  Lacurom said that the deployment of the soldiers to Mindanao is their “contribution in attaining peace not only in Mindanao but for the entire country as well.” He also said that the headquarters of the 63rd IB will temporarily be occupied by the members of the 43rd IB which is based in San Jorge, Samar. Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Cesar Idio, assistant 8ID commander, reminded the soldiers to be careful and enhance commandership, leadership and continue with the needed training.  (JENNIFER SUMAGANG ALLEGADO/ROEL T. AMAZONA)