The reactivation of the Negros Island Command, in line with the recent creation of Negros Island Region, as proposed by then Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, still seems to be in a stage of “limbo”, with the Philippine National Police tentatively activating the Police Regional Office 18 within this week.
Maj. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, 3rd Infantry Division commander, who heads the Philippine Army in islands of Panay, Negros and Cebu, said yesterday that the proposal remains under study.
In the meantime, Guerrero said they will have to contend with the present Army forces in Negros and Panay islands, which they have targeted to be insurgency-free by next year.
The military estimates that there are still about 200 NPA members operating in Negros island, and an estimated 180 in Panay island.
The Negros Island Command, that used to be under the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, was deactivated in 1995, following the taking over of the counter-insurgency operations by the elite Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police in Negros island, with Army troopers sent to Mindanao, military records show.
The islands of Negros and Panay, which have been declared as peaceful and ready for further development, hosted several meetings of the Asian Pacific Economic Conference held in the cities of Bacolod and Iloilo, as well as Boracay.
The PNP is temporarily slated to activate the PRO 18, which is composed of the Negros Occidental and Oriental Provincial Police Offices, as well as the Bacolod City Police Office.
As announced by Catapang during the declaration of Negros Occidental as peaceful and ready for further development on June 10, the proposed Negros Island Command will be composed of the units of the Philippine Army, Air Force and Navy, that will be commanded by a general.*GPB
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