Friday, October 20, 2017

Crush NPA next

From the Mindanao Times (Oct 20): Crush NPA next

AFP chief says campaign to renew after end of Marawi conflict

AFTER President Rodrigo Duterte declared the liberation of Marawi City, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Eduardo Año said they will refocus their campaign to eradicate New People’s Army influence in far-flung communities.
In his speech on Tuesday during in the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) at Naval Felix Apolinario Station in Panacan, he said they will recruit 8,000 more troops and activate 10 infantry battalion to end the communist rebellion.

The six battalions will be brought under the Eastern Mindanao Command area, while the rest will be deployed in Luzon and Visayas.

“To ensure the peace and order in the country we should have additional troops after the Marawi crisis to counter the communist rebels,” Año said. “It’s the time to crush the CPP-NPA here in Eastern Mindanao.”

The AFP chief said that the soldiers have gained ground against the NPA since the lifting of the ceasefire in February 2017.

“Now the Marawi crisis has ended we will deploy forces, we’ll return forces here,” he said. “We need to end the CPP-NPA.”

However, he said all battalions and units are all on alert to prevent a spillover of the violence in Marawi.

“In Marawi the crisis has ended but in the different areas in the country, there are still other threats that we need to counter like in Basilan and Sulu and Maguindanao,” Año said, adding that battle-scarred soldiers from Marawi will be redeployed in the three provinces to pursue the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, which are said to have allied themselves with the Daesh.

President Duterte, upon his visit to Marawi City on Tuesday, declared the liberation of the city. He said rehabilitation and reconstruction can commence after the military has cleared the area of threats.

“When Marawi has been liberated that means the level of the threat is at the lowest level,” the military officer said. He estimated that there are still around 30 fighters remaining in the area but they’ve sent feelers so they can surrender and leave ground zero alive.

The AFP has a huge role to play in the reconstruction phase. Apart from ensuring the area is already clear from improvised explosive devices, booby traps and terrorists, they will also conduct a damage assessment. Rebuilding may start in the first quarter of 2018.

The rehab and reconstruction plan received a boost with the donation of 47 units of heavy equipment from China. According to Public Works and Highways Sec. Mark Villar, the heavy equipment include eight units of excavators (back hoe), dump trucks, bulldozers, cement mixers, compactors,f and wheel loaders.

Año estimates that it will take three months for them to totally clear the area of booby traps and bombs.

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