New Army battalion to go after Northern Mindanao Reds

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NPA Bukidnon
Show of force by NPA guerrillas in Bukidnon. Photographed by Erwin M. Mascariñas, News5-InterAksyon

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — With prospects of resumed peace talks between communist rebels and the government still up in the air the military in Northern Mindanao beefed up its forces, organizing a new battalion to counter the threat posed by the New People’s Army, especially in Bukidnon province.

Captain Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesman of the 4th Infantry Division said the 88th Infantry Battalion based in South Poblacion, Maramag, Bukidnon is a mix of 450 new recruits and battle-hardened soldiers from other divisions, as well as fresh graduates of the 4ID.

Bukidnon is considered one of the hotbeds of the NPA in Northern Mindanao. Recently, a number of companies based there were attacked by the rebels who burned equipment and facilities and seized firearms from security guards.

4ID commander Major General Ronald Villanueva said the newly-activated battalion’s tasks and mission are aligned with the military’s counterinsurgency campaign, Oplan “Kapayapaan.”