Military vows to ‘wipe out’ NPAs in W. Visayas in 2014By Frances Mangosing
CAMP PERALTA, Capiz- The military in Western Visayas is aiming to wipe out communist guerrillas in the region in the next two years.
In a security forum here, Lieutenant Colonel Audie Mongao, deputy chief for operations of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, said they are working to reduce a significant strength of the New People’s Army by yearend, and handing over a part of Negros province to the local government by end of 2013, and making Panay Island insurgency-free by 2014.
The military also has yet to clear Siquijor, Iloilo, Capiz and Antique of insurgency.
Aklan and Guimaras were earlier declared free from communist rebels.
Meanwhile, Antique is seen to be insurgency-free by yearend.
“Our goal is to pressure the NPA to abandon armed struggle (through our campaign plan against insurgency IPSP Bayanihan), he said.
In Western Visayas, the strength of communist rebels was estimated at about 400, with more than half coming from Negros.
Meanwhile, Major General Jose Mabanta Jr., commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, admitted that it will take a while to clear Negros of Maoist guerrillas, adding that two thirds of the military’s forces have been deployed in the area.
“We believe the threat in the island of Negros is more pronounced than in Panay because of the issues that are prevalent and being used against the government like agrarian reform, [the gap] between rich and poor…,” he said.
On Panay Island, threatened areas include the boundaries of the 33,000-hectare military camp of the 3rd Infantry Division, located near Capiz and Iloilo.
The 3rd Infantry Division is only able to use and visit about 1,000 hectares of the camp, said Mabanta.