BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Terrorist rebels in the island of Negros enjoyed a brief respite from focused military operations in the countryside as State troopers segued their poll watch for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to peacekeeping duties for All Souls and All Saints Day, both religious holidays to remember the dead, among them top terrorist rebel leaders who have fallen in battle with Army riflemen.
Major General Marion Sison, commander of the Third Infantry Division that leads ground operations against rebels in Western Visayas, which covers this province, and parts of Central Visayas, urged soldiers to go after the rebels and crush whatever remains of the fronts of the Maoist rebels that have been whittled down to only two weakened ones from a high of six.
Sison was quoted in a dispatch from Division civil military operations officer, Lieutenant Colonel J-Jay Javines that there should be no let up in the operations against the Communist terrorists who should not be given breathing space.
The Army believes the unified regional committee for four islands in the Visayas-Negros, Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor is based in Negros island that is located between the islands of Siquijor and Cebu.
The streamlining of the command structure of the Communists, which used to have one regional committee per island region, came in the 1990s to the turn of the century amid successive losses of the rebels in Cebu, Bohol and Siquijor.
Military commanders took turns praising their troops who served for election duty on 30 October, the first BSKE one after then President Duterte instituted a novel approach to insurgency through Executive Order No. 70 that placed the entire government and the whole of nation strategy against the Communist insurgency in December of 2018.
Brigadier General Orlando Edralin credited the success in securing the polls to what he called as “… the solid commitment of each and every soldier in the monitoring centers and those deployed to secure the polling precincts in close coordination with other security forces.”
Edralin was quoted in a dispatch from 303rd Infantry Brigade civil military operations chief, Captain Mervin Rosal that their” prompt deployment of forces and continuous visibility patrols did not only provided a secure environment for the voters but also served as a deterrent against all lawless elements, especially the communist-terrorist group in executing their plans in order to disrupt the successful conduct of the BSKE 2023.”
Battalions of the Brigade all reported successes in securing the polls and the Halloween, from the 79th based in the northern Negros city of Sagay redeploying its troops to public and private cemeteries” to ensure the security and safety of the public in observance of the two religious holidays that came right after the polls.
Second Lieutenant Dan Carlo Samoza, 79th IB spokesman quoted Battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Arnel Calaoagan as having said that the redeployment of soldiers will serve as an augmentation for the local PNP and other Law Enforcement Agencies in Northern Negros to further ensure that Negrenses will have a solemn and peaceful observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day that forms part of our key role in the Oplan Ligtas Undas 2023 of the government.
Samoza reported in his dispatch that soldiers conducted visibility patrols as part of security measures along with distribution of hotline numbers and safety reminders; and establishment of Police Assistance Desk in places of convergence.
He added that aside from the Army and PNP, various volunteer groups actively participated as force multipliers in facilitating the visitors, conducting first aid operations, helping in traffic management, and maintaining cleanliness and orderliness of the cemeteries.