THE deployment of additional troops of the Philippine Army in Negros Occidental is expected early next year.
Colonel Benedict Arevalo, commanding officer of the 303rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army who attended a command conference at the 3rd Infantry Division headquarters in Jamindan, Capiz on Monday, December 17, bared this on Tuesday, December 18.
“It will be sometime early in 2019,” he said.
He, however, said the specific unit or size that will be augmented to the province is still being determined.
He said their operations against the New People’s Army are not dependent on the additional troops.
“We’re not taking their words as it is because it might just be a ploy for troops to put down our guards and give them an opportunity to hit us before or after their anniversary on December 26,” Arevalo said.
“Whatever we have now will make do in order to run after them,” he added.
On November 22, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Memorandum Order (MO) 32, directing the immediate deployment of troops to Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and Bicol in an effort to thwart lawless violence and acts of terror in these areas.
The MO 32 came after the recent “sporadic acts of violence” that may have been committed by lawless groups in the provinces of Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and Bicol.
In Negros Occidental, nine farmers were brutally murdered at Hacienda Nene in Bulanon village, Sagay City on October 20.
The following month, human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos Jr., secretary-general of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers-Negros chapter, was gunned down by two motorcycle-riding assailants in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental on November 6.
Under MO 32, Duterte sent additional personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to “prevent further loss of innocent lives and destruction of property and bring the whole country back to a state of complete normalcy as quickly as possible.”
The Army and police in the province welcomed such development but they are still waiting for the additional resources and final instructions from the higher command.