The Army's15th Infantry “Molave Warrior” Battalion is expected to return to Negros this week.
Capt. Eduardo Precioso, Public Affairs Office chief of the 3rd Infantry Division, said yesterday that 15 th IB is up for deployment in Negros Oriental.
Top officials of the Army's 10th Infantry Division are slated to hold a send-off ceremony for the 15IB at the Davao Airport, before their transport by a C-130 Air Force cargo plane to Negros, Col. Robert Ancan, 1002nd Infantry Brigade commander, who supervises the unit in North Cotabato, said.
Before its deployment in Mindanao, the 15 th IB was assigned in northern Negros in 2008. The 15 th IB, that had been assigned in Salvador,Lanao del Norte, for almost a decade, was among the infantry units of the 3rd Infantry Division, whose troops helped in the liberation of Marawi from its ISIS-inspired Maute terrorist group.
The 15IB was later moved to North Cotabato and placed under the operational control of 1002nd Infantry Brigade, headed by Ancan, who is a Negrense and a native of Victorias City, Negros Occidental.
Negros Island is a priority area for the clearing of communist New People's Army rebels, Brig. Gen. DinohDolina, newly-designated 3ID commander, said earlier.
Negros Island, Capiz and Iloilo are the remaining provinces in Western and Central Visayas that have yet to be declared insurgency-free, because of the presence of communist rebels in their hinterlands.
Aside from 15IB,Precioso said Negros may get another battalion from Army's 8th Infantry Division, as Negros has became a priority for clearing of NPA rebels, after the Marawi incident.
He added that the 94th Infantry Battalion, which is soon to be activated, is also up for deployment in Panay, following the redeployment of the 82nd Infantry Battalion to Marawi City last year.
A battalion-size Army unit is composed of about 500 soldiers.
Dolina said heintends to defeat the NPA in Negros, Capiz and Iloilo by the end of 2018, targets that were also set but not accomplished by his predecessors during their stints as 3ID commander for almost three decades now.
Admitting that the CPP-NPA still has mass-based organizations in Negros because of still unresolved issues and root causes needing to be addressed, Dolina said, “That is why we are coordinating with the provincial governments of Negros(Occidental and Oriental), local government units, and national government agencies, which have the capacities to resolves issues existing in the island”.
While they are focusing their efforts on Negros, Dolina, however, said they will also take efforts to sustain their gains in the insurgency-free provinces of Western and Central Visayas,including Bohol, Cebu, Siquijor, Guimaras, Aklan and Antique, to prevent any attempts of the CPP-NPA to penetrate the cleared areas. *GPB
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