January 24, 2018, 9:45 am
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Troops sent to Mindanao to help in fight vs NPA

AN Army battalion from Bicol has been sent to Mindanao to augment troops involved in the intensified campaign against the communist New People’s Army, the military said yesterday.

The 65th Infantry Battalion, composed of around 500 men, was welcomed by officials of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division at their headquarters in Cagayan de Oro City on Wednesday. It will undergo re-orientation and re-education prior to deployment. The 4th ID operates in the Northern Mindanao and Caraga regions.

Maj. Gen. Ronald Villanueva, 4th ID commander, said the arrival of the 65th IB brings to around 6,000 the soldiers now assigned with the division.

The military intensified the campaign against the NPA in November last year after President Duterte terminated the peace talks with the communists due to continued NPA attacks on military and civilian targets.

On Tuesday, AFP chief Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero said the military is aiming to reduce the NPA strength by half, from the current 3,700, this year. 

Meanwhile, three NPA members were arrested at around 5 a.m. in Barangay Balite in Mapet town in North Cotabato.

1Lt. Silver Belvis, civil military operations officer of the 39th IB, said soldiers and policemen recovered from the suspects’ possession two landmines.  Arrested were Harold Adiaton and Ian Solis, members of the Sparu unit of the NPA’s Guerilla Front 53, and Dandan Mailan, an NPA recruiter.

Belvis said Adiaton and Solis are behind killings in the North Cotabato area, including that of Swiss-Filipino businessman Patrick Weneger in Kidapawan City in March 2012.

The military has said Weneger had actively promoted peace in the province and employed former communist rebels in his rubber plantation before he was killed.
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