BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The redeployment of the 82nd Infantry Battalion to Balamban, Cebu, is expected by the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division to bolster its efforts in the dismantling of the remaining New People’s Army guerilla fronts in Negros, Bohol, and Panay.
Maj. Gen. Eric Vinoya, 3ID commander, said the transfer of the 82IB from Mindanao to Cebu was requested by the Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command, to address the security vacuum, especially in the island of Cebu.
Vinoya said that the 82IB soldiers, who arrived by batches in Cebu, underwent a 14-day quarantine period, before they were formally welcomed yesterday through a ceremony held in Balamban, Cebu.
Five suspected NPA rebels died Tuesday in Bilar town of Bohol, while 70 Yunit Militia members surrendered to the 61st Infantry Battalion in Miag-ao, Iloilo, and yielded 70 firearms.
This was after 10 NPA members also died in an encounter with the 62nd Infantry Battalion in Brgy. Trinidad, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental more than a month ago.
“With the additional number of soldiers to augment those in Cebu and Siquijor, we assure the peace-loving people of these provinces that their Army in Central and Western Visayas will not stop the fight until we attain an NPA-free community,” Vinoya said.
Cebu Island has been regarded as a rest and recreation area of NPA members fleeing from Negros and Bohol islands.
With the dismantling of the Northern Negros and South East Fronts of the Komiteng Rehiyonal- Negros/Cebu/Bohol/Siquijor, the 302nd and 303rd Infantry Brigades are now confronting the remnants of the Central Negros and South West Fronts in Negros Island. AFP Central Command chief, Lt. Gen. Roberto Ancan, admitted earlier that Negros Island is the focus of their clearing operations in the Visayas.*