Leyte brigade extends counter-insurgency campaign to Samar Island
TACLOBAN CITY–In yet another move to put an end to the insurgency problem in Eastern Visayas, the operations of the Leyte-based Army brigade were extended to include some parts of Samar Island.
Brigadier Gen. Noel Vestuir, the commanding officer of the 802nd Infantry Battalion (IB), said their jurisdiction expanded to some parts of Samar and Eastern Samar provinces beginning June 1.
“It is only a new area, but there is no major adjustment in terms of what we want to achieve. The southern part of Samar and Eastern Samar provinces could already be considered generally peaceful,” he said on Saturday.
“I am looking forward to working with our new stakeholders in Samar and Eastern Samar in order to contribute to the overall efforts in ending the more than five decades of local communist armed conflict,” he added.
Originally, the 802nd IB had Leyte, Biliran, and Southern Leyte as its area of operations. Biliran and Southern Leyte have already been declared insurgency-free, while some parts of Leyte, particularly in its western regions, still have a presence of communist rebels.
When asked if they have a timetable to end the insurgency in Samar and Eastern Samar provinces, Vestuir said they want to accomplish this “as soon as possible.”
“We will do our best,” he said.
As part of this move, the headquarters of the 802nd IB were relocated from their previous location in Ormoc City, Leyte, to Borongan City, Eastern Samar.
Under the 802nd IB are three battalions: the 46th, based in Calbiga, Samar; the 63rd, based in Basey, Samar; and the 78th, located in Borongan City.
Vestuir said the provinces of Leyte and Biliran will now fall under the Joint Task Group Tandaya, headed by Brigadier Gen. Perfecto Peñaredondo.
Peñaredondo will supervise the 14th IB and 93rd IB, whose headquarters are based in Mahaplag and Kananga, both in Leyte.
The task force’s jurisdiction will also include the 546 Engineering Battalion.
With the transfer of the 802nd IB, all three brigades of the 8th Infantry Division, which is based in Catbalogan City, Samar, are now located on Samar Island.
The headquarters of the 801st IB is located in Hinabangan, Samar, while the 803rd IB is in Catarman, Northern Samar.
Major Gen. Camilo Ligayo, the commanding general of the 8th Infantry Division, previously said he aims to end the insurgency problem in Eastern Visayas within the year.
The presence of insurgency in Eastern Visayas, especially on Samar Island, is often cited as one of the reasons why it remains one of the poorest regions in the country.