Escalante City seems to also be the “center of gravity” of the state security forces in Negros Occidental, with the impending deployment of the elite 6th Special Action Force Battalion of the Philippine National Police in the place.
Senior Supt. Allan Guisihan, provincial police director of Negros Occidental, said that the 6th SAF Battalion will replace the maneuver company of the 6th Regional Public Safety Battalion, which is presently stationed in Brgy. Libertad, Escalante City.
Military records show that the bulk of the 3rd Civil Military Operations Battalion of the 3rd Infantry Division is also deployed in Escalante. At the same time, Escalante also hosted the retraining of 400 enlisted personnel and officers of the Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion.
A battalion-size unit of military and police is composed of about 400 men.
The 400-strong 62IB in northern Negros is also presently undergoing training in new combat operation strategies, values formation programs and orientation on human rights issues, and related concerns.
Chief Supt. Cipriano Querol, regional police director of Western Visayas, said on Monday that the 6th SAF Battalion will also be deployed in the “center of gravity” of the NPA in northern Negros.
Maj. Enrico Gil Ileto, 3ID spokesman, yesterday said that the recent deployment of SAF troopers in Negros Occidental, has given an opportunity for the Philippine Army and National Police to exchange ideas on their respective expertise in confronting criminals and insurgents.
Military and police intelligence reports show that the New People’s Army has been able to establish a strong influence in some areas of Escalante, and the hinterlands of Calatrava and Toboso.
With this development, the 3rd CMO Battalion has been tasked by the Philippine Army to gain the trust and confidence of some of the populace, who are still extending support to the NPA.
Peace advocates claim to have recorded 17 cases of alleged extra-judicial killings in Escalante since 2007, the majority of which had been claimed by the NPA.
Task Force Escalante, which is composed of the departments of Justice and Interior and Local Government, as well as the Commission on Human Rights, with representatives from peace advocate group and the provincial government, is now investigating cases of alleged extra-judicial killings.
Escalante Mayor Melecio Yap was also stripped by the Napolcom of his supervisory power over the local police, on allegations that he is supporting the NPA. Yap, however, vehemently denied the accusations, stressing that he was not given due process to prove his innocence.* GPB