Task force aims to dismantle ‘rebel fronts’ by end of 2019

Brigadier General Eric Vinoya (right), assistant division commander of Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) and commander of Joint Task Force Negros, and Police Lieutenant General Archie Francisco Gamboa (left), deputy chief for operations of the Philippine National Police (PNP), in a press conference at the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (Nocppo) headquarters in Bacolod City Friday. (Glazyl Y. Masculino)

By: Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – The Negros anti-insurgency joint task force (JTF) aims to dismantle the northern and central Negros fronts of the New People’s Army by the end of this year.

This was revealed yesterday by Brigadier General Eric Vinoya, assistant commander of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) and at the same time commander of JTF Negros, in a press briefing during his visit at Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (Nocppo) headquarters here.

The anti-insurgency drive in Negros Island was created for the rapid resolution of insurgency problem in the island last September 1.

It was launched in compliance to the order of President Rodrigo Duterte after expressing indignation over the brutal killings of policemen in Negros Oriental during the 40th Cabinet meeting last August 5.

Four members of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion (RMFB)-7 were killed in an ambush staged by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Ayungon town last July 17.

The JTF Negros will be under the administrative control of the 3ID and operational control of the Central Command (CENTCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

It will undertake the operational control over all AFP units in Negros island and will conduct internal security operations. The task force covers the whole island of Negros with five battalions under two brigades.

According to Vinoya, the task force intends to address insurgency situation in the island, reduce and cease local, national, and foreign terrorist groups, and ultimately dismantle priority Guerilla Fronts in order to defeat communist terrorist groups.

The creation of the task force is to fast track the end of the local armed conflict through focused military operations and community support programs and to really enforce the national task force to end local armed conflict, Vinoya said.

“The task force was not only created to address roots of insurgency and fight government enemies but to develop good working relationships among its members and other stakeholders by adopting the whole-of-nation approach,“ he added.

He also said that “ending insurgency to attain the desired sustainable peace and development does not only depend on the hands of the law enforcement agencies, military and police, but also through the cooperation of all local government units and national government agencies.

Hence, we are adopting the said national peace framework, he added.

He said that they are also targeting to dismantle other rebel fronts by next year.

Meanwhile, Brigadier General Rene Pamuspusan, director of Police Regional Office (PRO)-6, said they see to it that they help each other to fight the insurgency.

“This is just the start,” Pamuspusan said, as he cited the recent arrest of eight suspected members of Northern Negros Front-Komiteng Rehiyon in Escalante City last Wednesday.

“This is the result of our joint campaign against insurgency,” he added.

Early this year, the provinces of Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental launched the Provincial Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) which aims to end insurgency and sustain peace and order efforts in NPA-affected communities through the delivery of government services and socio-economic programs closer to the people.