Half of Army force sent to Mindanao


MANILA, Philippines – Hundreds of soldiers have been sent to Mindanao to tackle a rapid rise in communist guerrilla attacks on civilian targets, the military said Tuesday.

A battalion of mechanized infantry – about 500 soldiers with tanks and armored vehicles – plus two field artillery batteries of about 200 gunners were deployed to Mindanao on Sunday, said the region’s military spokesman, Maj. Armand Rico.

The transfer of soldiers previously assigned to the North was in “response to the clamor of governors and mayors of (the region) to stop the criminal and terroristic acts of the godless communist terrorists,” Rico told reporters.

Eastern Mindanao had seen “more than 100” attacks by the New People’s Army (NPA) against mining firms, telecommunications towers and banana plantations in the first half of the year.

In the past year the 5,000-member Maoist guerrilla force had also attacked a resort island, two prison facilities and municipal police posts in eastern Mindanao as it stepped up its campaign to seize weapons and raise funds through extortion.

Last weekend, the NPA set fire to a drilling rig at the Tampakan copper mining project of Anglo-Swiss mining giant Xstrata plc.

Rico said the military figures excluded the rebels’ unreported extortion efforts.
Four infantry divisions – nearly half the Philippine Army – are already deployed in Mindanao, with about half assigned to deal with the NPA threat to the north and east of the country’s second largest island.

Western Mindanao is also a hotbed of a decades-old Muslim separatist insurgency, though a ceasefire is in effect amid peace talks.

Rico said the reinforcements would allow the military to field more mobile and more powerful units against the NPA in the gold-rich Compostela Valley region and around Davao City, center of commercial farming.

He warned there was a danger of a “possible return of the chaotic situation during the 1980s,” when the NPA operated out of the slums of major Mindanao cities and launched assassination campaigns against soldiers and policemen.

The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been waging a 39-year armed campaign across the country. AFP

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My Take:

Attention CHR Chair de Lima!

A number of human rights violations directed to civilians will soon swell on this part of our country!

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