Sunday, April 28, 2013

CARAGA Army commander, with orders to step up fight vs NPA, vows no repeat of Guingona ambush

From InterAksyon (Apr 28): CARAGA Army commander, with orders to step up fight vs NPA, vows no repeat of Guingona ambush

There will be no repeat of the weekend ambush that wounded Gingoog City Mayor Ruthie de Lara Guingona and killed two others, the newly installed local Army chief, armed with a mandate to step up military operations against communist rebels, vowed Sunday.

Brig. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said his task is to identify the New People’s Army’s main areas and act accordingly to neutralize them. His tough counterinsurganecy stance is expected to trigger more apprehension from human-rights groups that earlier cited his checkered career as part of the controversial stint of former Army general Jovito Palparan, now a fugitive from the law for cases of murder, kidnapping and torture arising from his operations in Luzon.

Visaya explained, however, that his stepped-up campaign “is not all combat operations.” What is important, he added, is that “what happened to Mayor Guingona does not happen again.”

Mayor Guingona-- mother of Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III and wife of former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr.--was critically wounded, her two bodyguards killed, and a policeman escort wounded in the ambush by an undetermined number of NPA rebels.

Visayas said his last assignment in the area was decades ago, and he has to go back to basics. “We really have to conduct workshops. We’ve parameters how to identify the center of gravities and we really have to evaluate if Misamis Oriental qualifies as the center of gravities,” Visaya said.

The Army division covers Northern Mindanao and parts of Region 10.

Earlier, the AFP leadership sacked the division commander, Maj. Gen. Nestor Anonuevo, after the Guingona ambush, and replaced him with Visaya.

More clashes between soldiers and rebels have been reported in recent years in the Caraga region owing to the presence of big business such as mining manned by foreign companies, logging, export-oriented fruit and palm plantations, among others.

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