An assessment conducted by the intelligence and other related services of the military showed there was a necessity to deploy more troops in Samar to quell the upsurge of the so-called lawless violence in the province.
“We conducted an assessment and found out there’s really a need for us to reinforce our units so we deployed two more battalions,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said.
Samar 1st District Rep. Edgar Sarmiento, for his part, welcomed the government’s decision to deploy troops in Samar, describing it as an “answered prayer,” especially since next year’s elections are drawing near.
“President Duterte’s order to deploy more security forces in Samar is an answered prayer for Samareños who are constantly terrorized by private armed groups during election season,” Sarmiento explained.
“This move to deploy more troops in Samar and other areas deemed as election hotspots is definitely a welcome relief for most people of Samar,” he added.
This developed as the chief of the Philippine Army in Negros Island has assured the public government troops will protect the people and not let up until the New People’s Army (NPA) is defeated.
“Let me assure the peace -loving people of Negros Occidental there’s nothing to worry about and it should be the communist rebels who should worry,” Col. Benedict Arevalo, commander of 303rd Infantry Brigade based in Murcia, Negros Occidental said.
“We will continue our mission to attack the NPA rebels to end their violence and extortion activities guided by the rules of engagement. We will follow the rules,” he said.
Arevalo issued the statement shortly after awarding commendation medals to personnel of the Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion and the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) 6th Special Action Force.
The combined PA and PNP troops engaged the rebels in a firefight in Sitio Puting Bato in Barangay Washington, Escalante City last 16 November.
The encounter led to the death of two NPA guerrillas and the recovery of an M16 rifle, a .45 caliber pistol, rounds of ammunition, a bullet proof vest and subversive documents.
To recall, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea issued Memorandum Order 32 two weeks ago amid “sporadic acts of violence, reportedly being committed by lawless groups, particularly in the provinces of Samar, Negros Oriental and Occidental and Bicol Region.”
The memorandum called for the immediate deployment of additional military and police forces in those provinces.
The move earned criticisms from various critics who claimed that it could be a prelude to nationwide declaration of martial law.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, however, assured the residents in an interview with reporters, President Rodrigo Duterte sent more troops merely to “secure” the provinces where lawless acts have been committed in recent months.