By Erwin Mascarinas of MindaNews
BUTUAN City––More soldiers will be deployed to the Caraga region in the coming weeks to boost the fight against the New People’s Army (NPA), an Army official said on Friday.
Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, commander of the 4th Infantry Division (4ID), revealed the planned troop augmentation in the region during his visit at the 402nd Infantry Brigade headquarters.
Caraga covers the provinces of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Dinagat Islands.
Visaya said additional troops will also be sent to the provinces of Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Camiguin.
He said the 1st Special Forces Battalion which arrived at the 4ID headquarters in Cagayan de Oro City last week will be deployed to Bukidnon.
“As for Caraga region, we expect two weeks from now the arrival of the 4th Scout Ranger Battalion and maybe a month from now two more army battalions and a brigade,” he added.
Visaya further said the Philippine Air Force unit stationed in Cagayan de Oro would be transferred to Caraga.
“As our ground troops will be moving in, our operations in the ground will be supported by the Philippine Air Force,” he said, adding “there are now plans for the Tactical Operations Group I0 based in Lumbia, Cagayan del Oro City to be moved to Bancasi in Butuan City to further support in the augmentation of our troops in the region.”
The 1st Special Forces Battalion was supposed to arrive last November but was sent to Tacloban City to provide additional security after super typhoon Yolanda leveled the city, Lt. Col. Nasser Ledesma, the battalion commander, told MindaNews upon their arrival last week.
Bukidnon, northern Mindanao’s landlocked province, hogged the headlines last year with the New People’s Army (NPA) attacks on fruit giant Del Monte Philippines’ base in Manolo Fortich town in February and on the police station of Kibawe town in December.