ANTI-INSURGENCY CAMPAIGN IN THE VISAYAS INTENSIFIED

Bacolod City, August 5, 2003 By Antonieta Lopez (STAR) The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will shift the focus of its anti-insurgency campaign from Mindanao to the Visayas region.

This was disclosed yesterday by Army chief Gregorio Camiling, who said that some military units of the 3rd and 8th Infantry Divisions from Mindanao will be transferred to the Visayas.

The 3rd ID covers Western and Central Visayas areas composed of Panay, Negros, Cebu and Bohol, while the 8th ID operates in Eastern Visayas.

Camiling admitted that the timetable in their anti-insurgency campaign in the Visayas had been affected by transfer of troops to Mindanao.

"If we return some of the military units to the Visayas, our campaign will have an additional impetus," he said.

Military units from Panay and Negros islands presently deployed in Mindanao are the 6th, 7th, 47th and 66th Infantry Battalions.

Lt. Col. Rolando Picar, 66th IB commanding officer, said they are only awaiting orders from the AFP to return to Negros.

AFP chief Narciso Abaya earlier said that the realignment of government military units in Mindanao had been triggered by ongoing peace efforts between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Col. Victor Ibrado, newly-installed commander of the Army’s elite Special Forces Regiment, said he is willing to augment two infantry battalions of soldiers in Negros, with more soldiers.

Despite the redeployment of infantry units from Mindanao to Visayas areas, Abaya said they are going to maintain a force to implement the ceasefire in MILF areas.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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