ELITE FORCE. The Philippine Army in Eastern Visayas welcomes the arrival of the 4th Scout Ranger Battalion at the Calbayog City port in Samar province on Sunday (Dec. 11, 2022). The elite force will help the 8th Infantry Division in its fight against insurgency. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army 8th Infantry Division)

TACLOBAN CITY – The Philippine Army in Eastern Visayas is upbeat about ending the “last bastion insurgency” in Samar Island following the arrival of an elite force in the region that fought terrorist groups in Mindanao in recent years.

Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Camilo Ligayo expressed his gratitude to the military leadership for sending the additional forces and equipment that will boost their campaign against insurgency.

“I am indeed grateful to the higher headquarters for sending one of the finest battalions from our elite force to augment our forces here in Eastern Visayas. Your expertise in combat tested by time will surely contribute to the Division's campaign against decades-long insurgency,” Ligayo said in a statement issued on Monday.

The Army’s 4th Scout Ranger Battalion with about 400 soldiers arrived at the Calbayog city port in Samar on Sunday fresh from their retraining in Australia to enhance their capability in air-to-ground combat and small unit operations.

Ligayo said the battalion made significant accomplishments against the communist terrorist group operating in the Caraga region in Mindanao.

They contributed to the five-month-long battle against the ISIS (Islamic State)-inspired Maute group in the Liberation of Marawi City in 2017 and also fought during the Zamboanga Siege and Mamasapano incident against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) fighters in Mindanao.

“The addition of elite force of the Philippine Army manifests the sincerity of our government to eradicate the 50 years menace of the communist terrorist group in Region 8. Their deployment will play a significant role in the overall campaign of the division,” Ligayo added.

In a phone interview, Capt. Jefferson Mariano, the spokesperson of the Army’s 8th Infantry Battalion, said the elite force will be assigned in Northern Samar province covered by the Army’s 803rd Brigade.

The brigade has been monitoring the movement of four remaining guerrilla fronts in Eastern Visayas, all operating in Northern Samar.

The military earlier estimated that there are still about 300 NPA fighters belonging to the four fronts and their supporters hiding in the mountains. (PNA)