BRGY.BATO, Sagay City – The New People’s Army is now attempting to recover its guerilla bases in the hinterlands of Escalante, Toboso and Calatrava (ESTOCA), that are now the focus of development by the Negros Occidental provincial government.
Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, 3rd Infantry Division commander, said this is in tandem with the non-government organizations, civil society as well as state security forces, including the military and police.
Baladad said that if not for the local government units, civil society and other stake holders, the military will not succeed in their peace and development campaign, especially in the guerilla bases of the Northern Negros Front in the ESTOCA areas.
On Saturday Baladad honored individuals, LGUs and various organizations, who assisted the 62nd Infantry Battalion, in the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan campaign, with the active involvement of the provincial government of Negros Occidental, through its Provincial Peace and Integration Development Unit.
Baladad said the NPA has moved out from the ESTOCA areas after experiencing military debacles, and the government is now moving in to pour projects into those areas.
He, however, warned that the NPA is bent on recovering its lost territories in the ESTOCA areas.
“For us to preserve our gains, we, in the military, should integrate our efforts and coordination, especially in the aspects of intelligence, operations and civil military operations. Externally, we also maintain the synchronization of our efforts with the LGUs, NGOs, Church, and the civil society,” Baladad said.
Progressive organizations has earlier called for the pull-out of Army soldiers in the ESTOCA areas, claiming that government forces are staying in populated areas and harassing residents suspected of being supporters of the NPA.
Baladad, who officiated at the 62nd Infantry Battalion turnover of command between Lt. Col. Efren Morados and Lt. Col. Rommel Cordova, praised the military in northern Negros for winning the peace campaign in the ESTOCA areas, by harnessing the support of the community.
“The presence of so many stakeholders who were given awards is a testament to the paradigm shift of the AFP campaign”, he said, adding that the solution to the insurgency problem is everybody’s business.
More than 20 Bayanihan teams of the Philippine Army have been deployed in the so-called guerilla zones of the NPA in northern Negros, helping concerned local LGUs in the delivery of basic services to its residents.
He also praised Morados, who is now up for new assignment at the 3rd Infantry Division headquarters in Jamindan, Capiz, for his outstanding leadership as 62IB commander for 25 months.
With the 62IB having ranked second best infantry battalion of 3ID for 2012 and 2013, he challenged Cordova, its newly-installed commander, to duplicate, if not surpass, the achievements of Morados in harnessing the support of the people in winning the peace campaign in northern Negros.
Baladad also said that he was impressed by the performance of company commanders, platoon and squad leaders and specifically mentioned PFC Arturo Facelo, a Bayanihan Team member of the 62IB Alpha Company, who had accomplished his assigned mission with a big impact, although new to the military service.
“He is a good model for Enlisted Personnel,” Baladad said, in commending Facelo in publicly for a job well done as a Bayanihan Team operator.
During the stint of Morados, the 62IB recovered 11 high-powered firearms from the NPA,including M16,M14 and AK 47 assault rifles, effected the arrest of 10 high-profile NPA personalities, and neutralized 22 others, who either surrendered, were captured or killed in gunbattles.
Morados also received a Military Merit Medal and Command Plaque from Baladad, for his outstanding leadership.* GPB