THE Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID) will activate on Thursday a new battalion of some 500 soldiers to help fight communist guerrillas, an Army official said.
Captain Joe Patrick Martinez, 4ID spokesperson, said the new battalion, called the 88th Infantry Battalion, will be ushered into service following a ceremony at Maramag town in Bukidnon.
Martinez said Maramag town will be within the battalion’s area of responsibility including the southern part of Bukidnon.
He said the soldiers composing the new battalion were taken from the different battalions of the 4ID.
Martinez said to replace the posts left by soldiers who are now part of the new battalion, they have assigned newly-graduated soldiers from Bicol, Cebu, and Samar.
"Basta ang ating area sa 4ID is a national priority area. So itong northern part ng Mindanao, hanggang Davao, at Caraga region, yang areas na yan ay national priority, as far as insurgency is concerned, kasi dito yung medyo mabigat na part sa NPA," he said, adding, that 50 percent of the total number of rebels in the country is in Mindanao.
"Hindi naman masasabing kulang ang force natin noon, ang atin lang dito is time is of the essence. Kaya naman siyang iaddress kaso matagal lang, ang gusto lang natin ngayon is ma fast track ang pag-address ng insurgency, this is actually the plan na magdagdag ng battalion to immediately address itong situation natin," Martinez added.
Martinez said the Davao region has also activated a new battalion last month with the same aim, to fast track the military’s counter-insurgency efforts.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), will be the government’s next target after the state forces have crushed the Islamic State-inspired terrorists in Marawi City. Duterte has declared Marawi free from terrorists last Tuesday, October 17.
Just this month, the NPA rebels attacked two detachments of the Army's 8th Infantry Battalion (8IB) in Barangay Calabugao and Barangay Hagpa, both in Impasug-ong town, Bukidnon province, where they reportedly stole 6 high powered firearms.
Last October 8, 70 suspected members of the New People's Army raided an agribusiness firm at Sitio Rang-Ay, Barangay Mirangiran, Quezon, Bukidnon where the rebels burned several heavy equipment.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 20, 2017.