––CALAPAN CITY—The Armed Forces of the Philippines will deploy more government troops to this island to end, by December 2016, the threat of the long-running insurgency war in Mindoro’s two provinces, even as some sectors are concerned this would not send the right message given the proximity of the 2016 elections.
The Oriental Mindoro provincial government and the military have agreed, through a Memorandum of Understanding, to end the “capabilities and violent activities” of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the National Democratic Front, and the New People’s Army by next year to “pave the way for further development,” military and civilian officials said.
Completed and ongoing development projects in agriculture, infrastructure and social services, are often hampered by the on-and-off fighting between government forces and remnants of the rebel group.
Thus, “we have to put an end to this,” Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso V. Umali Jr. said.
“There are still remaining elements of rebel armed groups which need to be addressed by the government. That is the main reason why the AFP will bring in more troops to this island,” Solcom commander, Lt. Gen. Ricardo R. Visaya, said.
The deployment of more government combatants to the two Mindoro provinces, however, does not sit well with concerned groups, saying that “why it coincides with the start of the election period and the 2016 local and national elections.”
General Visaya made it clear, however, that the deployment of augmentation forces to Mindoro is to “contain the remaining communist rebels still holding out in this island’s boondocks and not for anything else.”
“It has nothing to do with the coming election.”
The AFP is determined to “make it a peaceful election as we encourage local politicians to submit their plans. We’re talking to candidates not to give in to the financial demands of armed groups,” he said.
The Army augmentation force that will come from Camp Capinpin, in Tanay, Rizal, will beef up elements of the 203rd Infantry Brigade, of the Philippine Army, presently based here in Oriental Mindoro. The brigade’s area of operation also covers its sister province of Occidental Mindoro.
Oriental Mindoro has been declared, through a Sanggguniang Panlalawigan resolution, as a “conflict manageable area and ready for development,” meaning that the major threat of insurgency has been reduced, Umali said.
The agreement calls on the provincial government to “take the lead role in the implementation of socio-economic programs” while the AFP and the Philippine National Police, on the other hand, will “ensure the safety and well-being of their constituents and to further address the root causes of internal security threats.”
Included in the duty of the AFP and the PNP is “securing vital installation and flagship projects” completed and being undertaken by local and national governments.