BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The 3rd Infantry Division may not expect additional troops to dismantle the four remaining guerilla fronts of the New People’s Army in Negros Island, after it successfully dismantled the South East Front of the Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros/Cebu/Bohol/Siquijor.
Army chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said Saturday that he will maintain a reasonable amount of force in Negros.
At present, there are five Army battalions stationed in Negros Island, being supervised by the 302nd and 303rd Infantry Brigades of the 3rd Infantry Division.
Sobejana, in his visit to various Army units on Nov. 27 and 28 in Negros Oriental, conferred an award on the 11th Infantry Battalion, where he used to be assigned, for the dismantling of the KR-NCBS South East Front (SEF).
“We will not stop until all (NPA) guerilla fronts are dismantled,” he stressed during a press conference Saturday at the 302nd Infantry Brigade headquarters in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental.
‘GET RID OF THEM ALL’
“Our mission is to get rid of them all so that Negrenses will be able to live peacefully” Sobejana said.
Four Army battalions have been tasked to focus their efforts on the dismantling of the remaining four NPA guerilla fronts in Negros.
Maj. Cenon Pancito,3rd Infantry Division spokesperson, said yesterday that some of the 11th Infantry Battalion units will be utilized to help other infantry units, while still looking for the SEF remnants.
While there was no timetable given to dismantle the four NPA guerilla fronts in Negros, Pancito said the 3ID will do it as soon as possible, before the term of President Rodrigo Duterte ends in 2022.
“We need the presence of our soldiers across the whole archipelago, even in cleared areas, to preserve our gains,” Sobejana said.
He also said that the CPP-NPA is continuously getting setbacks because of the Army’s comprehensive security efforts under Executive Order 70, that is the institutionalization of the whole nation approach, through the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which he described as a good mechanism for convergence, with local government units actively taking part.
“I think the downward direction of the CPP-NPA will continue,” Sobejana said, as the Army vowed to eliminate the menace of terrorism brought about by the local communist group.
Before his arrival, Lt. Gen. Roberto Ancan, AFP Central Command chief, also visited the 11th Infantry Battalion in Siaton, Negros Oriental, and conferred awards on Army soldiers and fallen comrades.
Ancan and Sobejana, both members of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1987, started their respective military careers as Army junior officers of the 11IB in the late 1980s until the early 1990s, that used to have its headquarters in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental.* GPB