Army exec: No pullout of government troops from Negros Oriental

NO TROOP WITHDRAWAL. Soldiers of the Philippine Army's 11th Infantry Battalion based in Siaton, Negros Oriental, stand in attention during a formation in this undated photo. The Philippine Army said on Tuesday (April 30, 2024) that it would not withdraw its forces from the province despite its declaration as under a state of Stable Internal Peace and Security.
NO TROOP WITHDRAWAL. Soldiers of the Philippine Army's 11th Infantry Battalion based in Siaton, Negros Oriental, stand in attention during a formation in this undated photo. The Philippine Army said on Tuesday (April 30, 2024) that it would not withdraw its forces from the province despite its declaration as under a state of Stable Internal Peace and Security. (PNA file photo by Mary Judaline Partlow)

GOVERNMENT troops deployed to Negros Oriental will not be pulled out despite the province being declared already under a state of Stable Internal Peace and Security (Sips), a military official said Tuesday, April 30, 2024.

Brigadier General Joey Escanillas, commander of the Army's 302nd Brigade based in Tanjay City, said the transition from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to the Philippine National Police (PNP) as the lead agency in counter-insurgency operations would be gradual.

"This is not going to be a paradigm shift, but little by little, we will transition our role to supporting the PNP under the Sips," Escanillas said during a Kapihan sa PIA forum here.

He said the transition, stipulated in the memorandum of agreement between the AFP and PNP, may take up to five years to complete.

This came after the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Board) passed a resolution last month for the SIPS declaration, following the recommendation of the Provincial Peace and Order Council.

Escanillas said the declaration meant that all guerilla fronts of the New People's Army – the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines – on Negros Island have been dismantled, with just a few remnants left.

This means, he said, a shift in focus of the government's anti-insurgency campaign to primarily law enforcement, involving not just the police but the local government units (LGUs) and government agencies in a whole-of-nation approach.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Don Richmond Conag, deputy police provincial director for operations, assured in the same forum that they are ready to take over the lead role from the AFP. (PNA)

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