The Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command is moving towards the turnover of local peace and security to the local government in Negros Oriental that is expected within the first semester of this year, its commander, Maj. Gen. John Bonafos, said yesterday.
Bonafos said the 302nd Infantry Brigade, headed by Brig. Gen. Francisco Patrimonio, has successfully addressed the security threats of the Komiteng Rehiyonal Sentral Bisayas that has moved out from Negros Oriental.
He said they have noted a drastic reduction of KRSB in the past years, and it is now at a level they already call insignificant.
The KRSB South East Front in Negros Oriental, the supervision of which was reportedly transferred to the Komiteng Rehiyonal Negros under the leadership of former priest Frank Fernandez, has 25 remaining members, Patrimonio said.
“We are already moving on to the finalization stage where the province of Negros Oriental will be at a normalization process,” Bonafos, who attended the Peace, Integration and Development forum at the Provincial Capitol Social Hall in Bacolod City, said.
“Once we achieve it, we will move to Panay island to help stabilize the peace and security situation,” he also said.
The KRSB used to have its base of operations in Cebu and Bohol. However, when Cebu and Bohol were declared as insurgency-free by the AFP, they transferred to Negros Oriental, military records show.
In Negros Occidental, the military estimates that there are still about 200 armed NPA members, distributed to three NPA guerilla fronts. Eight of the 661 Negros Occidental barangays have been classified as insurgency-affected, Major Gen. Aurelio Baladad, 3rd Infantry Division commander, said.
To avoid the transfer and movement of the remaining NPA members in Negros Oriental to the Occidental side, Bonafos said they have to synchronize their peace and development activities, with the two provincial governments.
As far as Negros Occidental is concerned, he said, the peace and security is at a manageable level.*GPB
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