THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has ordered the transfer of additional forces in rebel-infested Davao region in preparation for an offensive against the communist New People’s Army (NPA).
Brig. Gen. Leandro Loyao III, Regiment commander of the Army Artillery Regiment, disclosed on Sunday that he has ordered the transfer of the 2nd Field Artillery Battalion (2FAB) to reinforce the 10th Infantry Division (10th ID) stationed at Mawab, Compostela Valley.
“Davao Region is a national priority in the peace and development efforts of our government. Thus, for the 10th Infantry Division to achieve its mission, we the ‘artilleros’ are here to support them in their combat operations and in their peace and development initiatives,’ Loyao said.
Loyao has named Lt. Col. Romeo Pardo, a member of PMA Class 1994, as the new commander of the 2FAB, replacing Lt. Col. Lucito Garin of PMA Class 1993, who was named regiment’s chief of the Governance and Strategy Management Office.
Pardo is a seasoned artillery officer who performed artillery operations during his junior years in Samar and Leyte to support government troops fighting against the communist insurgents.
The 2FAB is equipped with 105 mm Howitzers, a heavy field artillery weapon that can be towed into combat.
On the other hand, the 10th ID, which specializes in conventional warfare and anti-guerilla operations, is composed of four brigades and 12 battalions with more than 6,000 soldiers.
The AFP has estimated that the NPA has less than 5,000 active members, more than half of whom are operating in Mindanao. The communist insurgents are strong in the area of jurisdiction of the 10th ID.
AFP chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. earlier said that he wanted the NPA, along with the Abu Sayyaf and other armed groups, neutralized within the year or before the end of the Aquino administration.
Catapang has described the NPA as “a spent force,” having been neutralized in many areas where they used to operate.
The military claimed that at least 25 of 81 provinces all over the country are currently insurgency-free.