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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, June 23, 2009
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Army eyes turnover of areas
in northern Neg. Occ. to police


The Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade may turn over some of its controlled areas in northern Negros to the Philippine National Police, to maximize the use of its forces in running after the armed New People’s Army members, military spokesman Maj. Nathaniel Villasor said.

By doing this, Villasor said the 303rd Infantry Brigade may concentrate its entire manpower on problematic areas of Negros island, in consonance with the deadline set by President Arroyo to reduce the NPA into an “insignificant level” next year.

Villasor added that the supervision of Barangay Defense Units organized by the Philippine in barangays liberated from the control of the New People’s Army, will be turned over to the PNP and concerned local government units.

The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division hopes to dismantle four NPA guerilla fronts in Negros by the end of 2009, before focusing its effort on Panay next year.

The 303rd IB, 6th Regional Mobile and the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office recently held a joint Internal Security Operations workshop, aimed at enhancing coordination in the campaign against rebels in Negros island.

National Democratic Front spokesman Frank Fernandez had earlier dismissed as “psy-war gimmicks” claims of 3rd ID that they are gaining ground in their anti-insurgency campaign in Negros.

Despite thousands of military and police personnel deployed in Negros, Fernandez said the revolutionary forces continue to grow, and are now elevating the armed struggle into a higher level.

AFP chief Gen. Victor Ibrado said they may revise their tactics in their anti-insurgency campaign, as they are running against time in meeting the deadline set by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for them to neutralize the armed New People’s Army members.

While they have managed to dismantle political and military structures of the rebel movement, the armed NPA members just transferred to another guerilla front.

Despite the odds, Ibrado said he is confident that they will able to comply with the directive of President Arroyo.

Ibrado noted that the NPA has resorted to attacking “soft targets”, such as telecommunication facilities and other private installations, to project they are still a force to reckon with.

“They are just doing this to give the impression that they are everywhere,” he said.

AFP records show that the number of NPA rebels has reduced by nine percent, from 5,768 to 5,239 by the end of 2008.*GPB




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