It will be business as usual for the Philippine Army in Negros Island, although the annual observance of Holy Week started yesterday.
Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said yesterday that the campaign against the New People’s Army that has figured in numerous atrocities, will continue.
“It’s business as usual with the troops continuing their security patrols,” Arevalo said, adding that, security forces are even advised to be on extra alert.
AFP spokesman Col. Noel Detoyato said that field units have the implied task of supporting the PNP to secure travelers and places of worship during the season of Lent.
In preparation for the May 13 elections, Arevalo presided over a command conference among his staff, battalion commanders, and their operations officers on Friday, that also gave emphasis on the deployment of forces in key areas of Negros Occidental.
Arevalo told his commanders to ensure that private armed groups or NPA rebels arenot utilized as private goons of candidates, noting that some local government officials have already allied themselves with communist rebels for their personal interests.
“We must prevent their extortion and other terroristic activities in the province,” he told Army commanders during the command conference held at Camp Major Nelson Gerona in Brgy. Minoyan, Murcia.
Arevalo also reminded commanders to closely coordinate with other security forces, the PNP and Comelec, and work as a team for the safe conduct of elections.
The Provincial Joint Security Coordinating Center, which is composed of the Comelec, AFP and PNP, has already identified 18 towns and cities as election hotspots in Negros Occidental, with Moises Padilla categorized as an area of grave concern or under category Red; and Toboso, Himamaylan City, Isabela, Hinoba-an, and Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental are under Category Orange, or immediate areas of concern.
Placed under category yellow, or areas of concern, due to the presence of communist rebels, but with no threat to the election process, emerging political rivalry and occurrence of suspected election-related incidents, are EB Magalona, Calatrava, Salvador Benedicto, Escalante City, Silay City, Binalbagan, Hinigaran, La Castellana, Candoni, Cauayan, Ilog and Sipalay City.*
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