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AFP beefs up anti-Red forces in Samar, Leyte

by Vener Malabanan Monday, Jun. 26, 2006 at 4:25 PM 231-241-0906 337 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

Pesante-USA reprinted the news of renewed AFP deployment of forces from Mindanao to areas in Luzon and the Visayas against the NPA. The new counter-insurgency campaign ordered by President Arroyo is reminicensce of the Marcos anti-NPA drive during martial law. Pesante condmens such gross militarization that will only result into more poltical killing that had reached more than 610 since 2001, hardship for the Filipino people and the perpetuatio of GMA into power.

AFP beefs up anti-Red forces in Samar, Leyte

By Edra Benedicto

Last updated 03:46am (Mla time) 06/26/2006

Published on page A2 of the June 26, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

CEBU CITY -- The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has deployed over 600 Army soldiers to Samar and Leyte to boost its existing personnel in the two provinces following the Arroyo administration’s declaration of all-out war against communist insurgents.

The additional troops, including about 50 officers, would beef up the capabilities of the different brigades, battalions and reconnaissance companies operating on Samar island, the Army’s 8th Infantry Division said in a statement Sunday.

The other week, a company of Scout Rangers and one reconnaissance company consisting of about 200 personnel arrived in Leyte to augment troops in the province, the statement said.

New People’s Army (NPA) rebels actively operated in Samar and Leyte where the poverty incidence is one of the highest in the country.

“We have to hit them hard and push them hard without let-up. Let us suffocate and finish them [off],” Major General Bonifacio Ramos, commander of the 8th ID, said during the send-off ceremony for the officers and soldiers held Sunday at Camp Lukban here.

Ramos emphasized the need to relentlessly pursue the remaining NPA guerillas in Eastern Visayas, particularly in the remote villages of Samar island.

But he instructed the soldiers to protect the people and respect their rights as they pursue the counterinsurgency operation.

But as if to taunt the government, communist rebels have been staging preemptive strikes on remote military detachments.

In Lupi town, Camarines Sur province, a band of NPA rebels attacked an Army detachment at dawn Sunday but were repulsed by government troops, the military said.

Army Maj. Jose Broso, the spokesperson of the military’s Southern Luzon Command based in Camp Nakar in Lucena City, said communist rebels raided the camp of the 31st Infantry Battalion in Barangay Taysan in Lupi at around 1:30 a.m.

The firefight lasted about 45 minutes. No government soldier was killed, Broso said. The fleeing rebels sustained a number of casualties, he said.

On Saturday morning, some 40 NPA rebels ambushed newly trained Army soldiers escorted by two V150 armor tanks in Barangay Sta. Catalina in Atimonan town, Quezon province.

Broso said the soldiers led by Lt. Alcantara and 2Lt. Kunisala were traveling along the Maharlika Highway on their way to report to the 74th Infantry Battalion based in the Bondoc Peninsula and Lamon Bay area when they were fired upon by the rebels. No casualties were reported.

On Saturday, communist spokesperson Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal issued marching orders to NPA rebels to defeat the intensified counterinsurgency operations.

The military is retraining and redeploying at least 3,000 troops as part of a two-year campaign to crush the communist insurgency as ordered by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who has earmarked P1 billion for the campaign.

But residents in the provinces are protesting the renewed militarization of the countryside.

In Quezon province, various groups are protesting the blockade by Army soldiers of a peace caravan bound for the war-torn hinterland villages of Lopez, Guinayangan and Calauag towns.

“We light candles and offer religious songs and prayers calling for the respect of human rights and the end of military operations in Quezon province,” said Oscar Lapida, media liaison officer of the peace caravan dubbed “Journey for Peace and Justice.”

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