The Central Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines hopes to clear southern Negros of armed New People’s Army rebels before the year ends, its commander, Navy Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano, said yesterday.
This was after the AFP cleared the entire Region 7, including Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor and Biliran provinces, of armed insurgents, as well as Southern Samar and Aklan, that were also declared insurgency-free, Alano said.
As for the implementation of their campaign plan, Alano, who visited the 303rd Infantry Brigade headquarters in Brgy. Minoyan, Murcia, said they are on schedule, and even advanced in some of their target areas to make Visayas “insurgency-free” by 2016.
It shows that everybody is doing their share, Alano said, adding, “This is our concept where it is just not the AFP that is being involved in addressing of security issues, but a whole nation activity”.
Alano, however, admitted that there are still some pockets of resistance waged by the remaining NPA members in some areas of Negros, Panay and Samar.
Col. Oscar Lactao, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, yesterday said the number of NPA rebels in Negros has dropped tremendously from about 2,000 fighters in the late 1980s, to about 200 this year.
The 302nd Infantry Brigade, which spearheads the security operations in Negros Oriental, reported that about 27 armed NPA red fighters are still operating in southeastern portion of the province, while 24 have surrendered to them since last year.
Alano said with the influx of tourists in Western Visayas, citing the recent visit of an ocean liner ,which dropped about 1,600 tourists in Boracay, and the infrastructure developments, shows that they feel safe and enjoy their stay in the Visayan region.
“As we continue ensuring peace and security,” Alano said, soldiers must respect to the rule of law and human rights. He, however, said that they will bring to the bar of justice those who continue to bear arms against the government and do frightening things, subversive acts, or force others to do these things.*GPB