Saturday, February 11, 2012

Army suspends offensives vs NPA in quake-hit areas

The Philippine Army has suspended tactical offensive operations against the communist New People’s Army areas of Negros devastated by a magnitude-6.9 quake last Monday.

Col. Francisco Patrimonio, the Army's 302nd Infantry Brigade commander, said he has instead mobilized his men to help in the retrieval of bodies from the rubble, according to a report on Visayan Daily Star.

Patrimonio said at least 300 soldiers and government militiamen are working in the retrieval operations, including landslide-hit areas in Planas village in Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental and in Sorongon village in La Libertad town.

He said they need more equipment, such as chainsaws, picks, shovels and other powered tools for retrieval operations in two landslide areas.

As of Thursday morning, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) had said at least 26 were confirmed dead and 71 still missing in the wake of Monday's quake.

The Visayan Daily Star report quoted military reports indicating some 100 armed NPA members are still operating in Negros Oriental.

Of these, 50 are in the hinterlands of Guihulngan and neighboring areas, under the Leonardia Panaligan Command.

'Appeal' to NPA

Meanwhile, Capt. Reylan Java, 3rd Infantry Division spokesman, appealed to the NPA leadership in Negros Island to spare the rescue workers from hostile actions.

He urged the NPAs to help the affected residents instead.

Java said troops of the 11th and 79th Infantry Battalions and the 32nd Division Reconnaissance Company, all being supervised by the 302nd Infantry Brigade, were marshaled to perform rescue and retrieval operations in affected communities.

Two Air Force helicopters from the 2nd Air Division in Cebu are now being utilized in the search and rescue mission.

Maj. Gen. Jose Mabanta, the new 3rd Infantry Division commanding general, said they will continue efforts to help those affected by the natural disaster.
 GMA News Online
February 10, 2012 9:40am

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