From the Philippine Information Agency (Feb 4): While sustaining peace and dev’t, AFP steps up clearing, combat ops
While the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is
sustaining the gains of its Peace and Development Program (PDOP), it is
stepping up clearing and combat operations, 10th Infantry
Division official said.
In an interview, Maj. Gen. Ariel Bernardo, commanding general of the 10th Infantry Division (Inf. Div.) said the series of atrocities perpetrated by rebel groups were in reaction to the operations carried out by military troops on field.
“We are pouring in more troops, and more active kami ngayon sa combat clearing operations to be followed by immersion of PDOP,” he said of the peace and development initiative that the AFP runs under Oplan Bayanihan.
He explained that the armed encounters with rebel groups happened as a result of the “aggressive” implementation of PDOP which, he said, is complemented with combat operation.
Just recently, military forces of the 67th Infantry Brigade operating in the east coast areas of Davao Oriental clashed with rebel forces reportedly under Front Committee 15 in Manay (Davao Oriental).
Bernardo said his command had already intercepted the planned entry of the rebel group. As a result, the military confiscated five high-powered long firearms, three sets of improvised explosive device (IED), one rifle grenade, and one hand grenade.
One soldier died but four members of the rebel group suffered the same fate during the encounter.
In a separate interview, 701st Inf. Brigade commander, Col. Benjamin Madrigal explained that the rebels came all the way from Compostela Valley traversing the mountainous boundary of Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley along the Municipality of Maragusan.
Madrigal also identified a certain area in Brgy. Pagsabangan in New Bataan, Compostela Valley as entry point of rebel groups going to Davao Oriental.
AFP last year identified Davao Oriental as “insurgency free” but its forces are still guarding the periphery to prevent re-entry of rebel forces.
“Ang binabantayan talaga namin ay ang mga (What we are closely watching are the ) mobility corners nila coming from Comval,” Bernardo said.
Meanwhile, Bernardo highly counted on the support of residents in local government units (LGUs) down to the barangay level to achieve impact in implementing PDOP.
“We are into the process of eliminating fear, by eliminating the presence of the armed groups. After that we will come in for peace and development, so we can push through what is envisioned: to develop the communities,” Bernardo said.