Westmincom gets 500 more soldiers in anti-terror drive

THE Philippine Army's 10th Infantry Division on August 24 sent around 500 additional forces to Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) in line with the order of the President Rodrigo Duterte to crash down the terrorist groups.

Army's 10th Infantry Division spokesperson Captain Rhyan Batchar said at the AFP-PNP press conference at Davao City Police Office (DCPO)that between 400 to 500 Army's 69th Infantry Battalion troops were sent to Westmincom.

The send-off ceremony for the 69th Infantry Battalion was held at the Tactical Operations Group (TOG) 11, Davao Air Base in Sasa in Davao City, Wednesday morning.

The troops boarded two C-130 planes heading for Jolo, Sulu.
"We choose the 69th infantry battalion dahil isa sila sa outstanding battalions natin ditos a division. They became the instrument in the neutralization of Leoncio Pitao while they were holding the Paquibato District here," Batchar said.

Batchar said the deployment of the two battalions is in adherence to the order of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) commander-in-chief President Rodrigo Duterte to focus on counter terrorism, particularly the Abu Sayaff group.

"Magkakaroon kami ng adjustment dito sa region, but that does not mean kulang na tayo sa tropa, hindi naman. Our insurgency campaign is still on top of our priorities but with the peace talk pinapangalagaan namin yan," Batchar said.

The President, himself, said there will be no negotiations with the Abu Sayyaf.

Batchar said the mandate of the president is to crush the Abu Sayaff and other terrorist groups to ensure safety and security of the people.

The 71st Infantry Battalion has already replaced the 69th Infantry Battalion in Maragusan town in Compostela Valley province while another battalion will be placed in Davao del Sur in exchange to Second Scout Ranger Battalion.

"Hindi namin masagot how long our troops will stay in Westmincom as long as their services are needed mananatili sila doon, but we hope na makabalik sila agad para makatulong sila sa mga programs and projects natin dito," he said.

Batchar said the two battalions are among the 16 battalions from different brigades nationwide that were sent off to Westmincom. He added that Submarine Battalions and Special Action Force (SAF) will be also sent to the same area.
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