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Deployment of Army men to Mindanao will not create security vacuum in Bicol

By Celso Amo LEGAZPI CITY --- Col. Ferosaldo Paul Regencia, spokesperson of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division, assured that the recent redeployment of the 901st Brigade to Mindanao will not affect the internal security operations against the Bicol Regional Party Committee (BRCP) of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military arm the New People’s Army (NPA). Regencia said the provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur and Catanduanes had already been declared as Conflict Manageable and Ready for further Development (CMDR). “The areas of operation such as Albay and Catanduanes will be covered by the 903rd Brigade based in Castilla, Sorsogon and the 902nd Brigade based in Labo, Camarines Norte,” said Regencia. There are also five Civilian Armed Auxiliary (CAA) companies to support the regular troops in Bicol. The NPA is still the main security threat in the Bicol Region. Latest military intelligence estimates place the BRPC at 220 cadres with 201 firearms and controls about 159 barangays. Harassment of Army and Civilian Armed Auxiliary (CAA) personnel remains the favorite tactics of NPA rebels, followed by extortion and intimidation of civilians, as well as mass actions conducted mostly in Albay and Camarines Sur. Reports said that the 901st Brigade which provides internal security operation in Albay and Catanduanes will be deployed at 4th Infantry Division which functions as a controlling headquarters to secure the boundaries of Bukidnon and Cotabato provinces. Meanwhile, seven New People’s Army (NPA) combat regulars surrendered to the 9th Division commanding general on Monday during a simple ceremony held at the headquarters of the 2nd Infantry Batallion in Barangay Bacolod in Milagros, Masbate. Col. Regencia said the communist terrorists were formally presented to Major General Jesus Manangquil, Jr. the 9th Infantry Division commanding general. The surrenderees, which include 24 mass base supporters and another 20 members of the Militia ng Bayan, turned over two M-16 rifles, an M-1 Garand rifle, a cal. 38 revolver, a cal. 45 pistol. Manangquil said all the surrenderees can be eligible for enlistment in the Comprehensive Local Integration Program so they can avail of financial rewards for firearms surrendered, as well as livelihood programs.

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