ZAMBOANGA CITY: Military authorities on Tuesday announced that the Philippine Army has sent an additional artillery unit to Mindanao to beef up the number of state troopers fighting rebels and bandit groups in several provinces in the island.
Major Rosa Maria Cristina Manuel, a spokesperson for the Army Artillery Regiment based in Fort Ramon Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, told The Manila Times that the newly activated 8th Field Artillery Battalion under Lt. Col. Jeffrey Cabansay arrived in Mindanao on Monday for deployment to Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.
She said Brigadier General Leandro Loyao 3rd, commander of the Army Artillery Regiment, designated Cabansay, a seasoned and well-decorated artillery officer, to lead the said battalion.
Cabansay had led campaigns against Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels in Mindanao from 1996 to 2003.
“As our military leadership puts their trust and confidence to the Army Artillery, I also put my trust on you, Jeff and your men, because it takes not only skills, but also the experience to help our infantrymen on the ground as they fight in order to secure the civilian communities and eventually win the peace,” Loyao told Cabansay before the latter headed to Mindanao.
Loyao also advised Cabansay to continually train and enhance the skills of troops under his command even if there are no operations in Mindanao.
Manuel said the artillery (105 mm howitzer) battalion was activated on October 16 in order to provide command and control over the three batteries currently deployed in Basilan and Sulu previously under the 7th Field Artillery (155 mm howitzer) Battalion. She said the 8th Field Artillery Battalion will be based in Basilan province.