AFP says no militarization in Negros Island amid deployment of more soldiers

The Armed Forces of the Philippines is not pushing militarization in Negros Island, assuring the locals that the deployment of special military troops was just part of the government peacekeeping efforts after the March 4 killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and eight others.

In a public briefing on Monday, AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar explained that the deployment of two brigades and a light reaction company in the Negros were only to augment the efforts of the Philippine National Police to address the peace and order situation in the area, following the gruesome ambush attack against Degamo.

“Sana po huwag tayong mag-aalala kung marami tayong nakikitang mga sundalo nasa ating paligid, lalo na diyan sa Negros. Kasi po ito ay binigyan ng kautasan ng ating headquarters na magsagawa po ng mga operations, para siguraduhin ang kaligtasan at kapayapaan sa komunidad natin lalo na diyan sa Negros Island, dahil sa mga pangyayari (I hope you would stop worrying even if you see many soldiers everywhere, especially in Negros. We have just given orders from the headquarters to operate for peace and security within communities, particularly in Negros Island, because of the happenings),” Aguilar said.

He underscored that all the involved soldiers in the joint task force had been deployed in the province for a long time.

“Sila po ay makikipagtrabaho sa PNP (Philippine National Police) para ma-suppress ang violence at lawlessness sa Negros Oriental at makapagsuporta din sa madaliang pagkakahuli ng mga pumatay kay Gov. Degamo at iba pa (They will work with the PNP to suppress the violence and lawlessness in Negros Oriental and support the immediate arrest of those who killed Gov. Degamo),” he said.

The deployed military units, he stressed, would also work on counter-insurgency efforts in the province.

Aguilar said the presence of the soldiers is not meant to create additional chaos but to assure the public that they are safekeeping communities to prevent a repeat of the brutal ambush incident in Negros Oriental.

Meanwhile, Aguilar the AFP, through its major service commands, will open a program that will continually monitor former military officials who have been discharged from service, especially those involved in criminalities.

The Philippine Army, he added, is now reviewing its Transition Assistance Program for former soldiers.

It is also eyeing the “retooling” of programs for soldiers who have pending cases before the military court so that they can use their other skills to generate income should they be discharged or retired from military service.

This move was introduced following the involvement of three former soldiers in the Degamo slay case.

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