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Negros forces won’t shift to Panay – Army

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• GILBERT P. BAYORAN

There will be no shifting of Philippine Army forces from Negros to Panay, following the dismantling of five New People’s Army guerilla fronts in Negros island, according to regional Army spokesman Lt. Col. J-Jay Javines.

This came after Maj. Gen. Marion Sison, 3ID commander, ordered newly-installed commanders of 12th and 82nd Infantry Battalions to finish the insurgency problem in Panay.

There are two remaining NPA guerilla fronts existing in Panay, which the Philippine Army has categorized as “weakened.”

At present, there are six  Army battalions, composed of 79th, 62nd, 94th, 15th, 11th, and 47th Infantry Battalions, under the supervision of 302nd and 303rd Infantry Brigade, stationed in Negros Island, while three others: the 61st, 12th, and 82nd Infantry Battalions, are stationed in Panay Island.

“We have enough forces here in Panay… we will also to sustain our efforts in Negros. So, no movement of forces, as of the period,” Javines said.

The six Army battalions in Negros Island are now on a manhunt for rebel remnants.

The 3ID, which supervises Army units stationed in Panay and Negros, is eyeing the recommendation of the declaration of Stable Internal Peace and Security (SIPS) in Negros Island, by the end of first quarter of this year.

On February 5 and 6, respectively, Sison installed Lt. Col. Jovert Pimentel as the commander of the 82IB in Janiuay town, while Lt. Col. Vicel Jan Garsuta took over the 12IB in Calinog, both in Iloilo.

Both change of command ceremonies were attended by Brig. Gen. Michael Samson, 301st Infantry Brigade commander, who supervises the three Army battalions stationed in Panay Island.

In his speech, Sison, who described Panay island as a “sleeping dragon and the remaining bastion of the NPA,” ordered the 82IB and 12IB to work closely with the local government units and other stakeholders, to facilitate the dismantling of the remaining weakened guerilla fronts.

“Finish the fight. Lick the enemy, totally decimate and eradicate them, in coordination with the local government units, civil society groups, private, religious, and the business sectors, in order to establish just and lasting peace in Panay,” he concluded in his speech.*

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