TACLOBAN CITY – The arrival of Scout Rangers in Samar from Davao would intensify the government’s campaign against the New People’s Army in Northern Samar, the Philippine Army said Monday.
The 4th Scout Ranger Battalion troopers will be placed under the operational control of the Joint Task Force Storm and will “help increase the operational tempo” in Ending Local Communist and Armed Conflict in Samar Island, said Maj. Gen. Camilo Ligayo, commander of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division.
"Truly it is overwhelming feeling how the higher headquarters manifest their support to the division's campaign by sending the elite forces to augment our troops deployed on this island. With their vast experiences, am confident with these advantages surely, we will be victorious in this battle,” Ligayo said.
Before their arrival on Feb. 18 at the 8th Infantry Division headquarter in Catbalogan City, Samar, the troops underwent training both locally and abroad to enhance their capability in counter-insurgency operations.
The elite force were credited for their significant accomplishments against the NPA operating in Paquibato District in Davao. They also took part in the four-month-long battle against the ISIS-Maute Group in Marawi City in 2017.
“Despite the success in combat operations from their previous assignments, we urged the Scout Rangers not to be complacent and remain vigilant since they will be confronting the NPA in this last bastion of insurgency,” Ligayo added.
Northern Samar has been considered the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front-NPA’s last bastion.
Despite the deaths and capture of several fighters, there are still an estimated 400 active combatants in Samar provinces belonging to four remaining NPA guerrilla fronts.
Meanwhile, 15 full-time NPA rebels surrendered over the weekend to the 94th Infantry Battalion (94IB) of the Philippine Army based in Ayungon town, Negros Oriental province.
“The surrender of these regular, armed members of the NPA has further weakened the Central Negros 2 guerrilla front to which they belong,” said Lt. Col. Van Donald Almonte, 94IB commanding officer, in an interview with the Philippine News Agency on Monday.
They turned over an M4 rifle; two .38-caliber revolvers; one homemade shotgun; and one rifle grenade.
The returnees, who are all from Negros Occidental, will undergo the validation process before their enrollment in the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program and for them to receive livelihood assistance. (PNA)