More battalions needed to crush NPA

THE PHILIPPINE Army said more battalions are needed to be deployed in Davao to eradicate the New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas operating in the region.

Maj. Gen. Noel Clement, the commander of the 10th Infantry Division (ID), told TIMES yesterday that at least three to five more battalions would be enough to combat the communist rebels.

The 10th ID has at least 12 battalions. These include the new battalion activated last September and the other battalion that returned to Davao after the Marawi crisis.

Clement said there are 11 NPA guerilla fronts operating in the region, considered by the military as one of the remaining strongholds of the communist group.

The NPA’s fronts 2, 25, 33, 34, 51, 53, 54, 55, 71, 72 and 73 are operating in the region.

The 10th ID is primarily tasked with protecting Davao Region (Region XI), and some towns in the neighboring regions.

Clement said the NPA rebels will always try to conduct atrocities.

He said the NPA is recruiting members for its liquidation units to go not only against government forces but also their former comrades who returned to the folds of the law.

However, Clement reiterated they always welcome the communist rebels to surrender.

“We don’t really want war. If they want to surrender then they can avail the services of the government,” he said.

In a separate interview, Capt. Jerry Lamosao, the 10th ID spokesperson, said around 300 NPA members already surrendered to various units of 10th ID in Davao region from January to October this year.

Lt. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista, the army’s commanding general, said President Rodrigo Duterte’s home region will be the national priority in the intensified operations against the communists as the region has a strong presence of the rebels.

Bautista said seasoned and veteran communist rebels are in Davao because they can easily get money from extorting business companies and plantations.

Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, has directed his subordinates to go against the communist groups.

President Duterte has repeatedly stated that the fight against the communist group will be his priority after the Marawi crisis.

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