Army gears up to intensify military offensives vs NPA

THE ARMED Forces of the Philippines (AFP) ordered all military units to intensify the security operations in four identified problematic areas under the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) following the spate of attacks by the New People’s Army (NPA).

AFP Chief of Staff Rey Leonardo Guerrero told reporters yesterday that the order of President Rodrigo Duterte after the clearing of Marawi City is to continue to pursue the terrorist group in Central Mindanao, and the communist insurgency problem in Mindanao.

Guerrero was the guest of honor in yesterday’s change of command ceremony of the Eastern Mindanao held at Naval Station Felix Apolinario in Camp Panacan,

Guerrero said that the most problematic areas in Eastern Mindanao are Davao Region, Agusan, Bukidnon and in North Cotabato.

“Definitely, Davao Region is a priority in Eastern Mindanao,” he said.

In an earlier interview, the commanding general of the Philippine Army, Maj. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista, said the Davao Region is the most challenging area in terms of insurgency operation as veterans NPA leaders and fighters operate here.

Guerrero also said with the organization of two additional battalions the 88th and 89th they will still be assessing the campaign against Maute-Isis in Marawi, and part of it would be the realignment of the battalions in the EastMincom area.

“We need additional battalions here,” he said. “Right now, the AFP is reorganizing additional 10 battalions (and) two battalions are already here.”

For now, the newly activated 88th Infantry battalion under 10th Infantry Division is deployed to Barangay New Visayas, Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte, and the 89th IB is based in Maramag Bukidnon.

Based on the assessment of Maj. Gen. Noel Clement, the 10th ID commander, the region still needs at least five battalions to crush the NPA.

The AFP chief also said he already discussed with the commanders of the 10th ID and 4th ID to gear up for the succeeding operations following the ambush on a mobile patrol that killed a four-month-old baby and a police officer in Talakag, Bukidnon.

The Eastern Mindanao command covers the areas of Davao Region, Caraga, and some parts of Northern and Central Mindanao.

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