DUMAGUETE CITY – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Visayas Command (Viscom) chief has ordered government forces to step up their operations this year against the communist insurgency in Negros amid positive gains.
“We are actually gaining much ground (and) we have weakened the guerrilla fronts here,” Lt. Col. Benedict Arevalo, Viscom commander, said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency on Wednesday afternoon.
Arevalo noted a decline in violent incidents initiated by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) “and our campaign is practically on the upbeat”.
Army commanders in Negros have previously said the NPA’s South East Front has already been dismantled while another guerrilla front in Central Negros has dwindled in numbers.
The Viscom chief, who concurrently heads the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army based in Jamindan, Capiz, said he had directed the different units to step up their operations to further weaken and neutralize the NPA forces and prevent them from “re-infiltrating the different barangays”.
Central Negros still has the biggest challenge in the counter-insurgency campaign, Arevalo said, adding that he has already directed his troops not to be complacent in going after the remnants of the guerrilla fronts.
Meanwhile, the directive to intensify the anti-insurgency operations is not just in Negros but in the entire Visayas region, focusing on Samar Island, he said.
He reiterated his call to the remaining NPA members to voluntarily surrender and live a peaceful lives with their families as their armed struggle is no match to the government’s sustained operations.
Arevalo was the guest of honor and speaker during the signing of a memorandum of agreement and groundbreaking of a multimillion pesos steel hanging bridge in Barangay Abis in Mabinay, Negros Oriental. (PNA)