DAVAO CITY — As many as 1,000 soldiers of the 10 Infantry Division were sent to Jolo, Sulu to beef up government campaign to crush the Abu Sayyaf group in the area.
Captain Ryan Batchar, 10th ID spokesperson, said that the 69th Infantry Battalion had their send-off ceremony on Wednesday, while the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion will have their send-off ceremony on Thursday, August 25.
“They will be the one who will handle the operation control in Western Mindanao,” he said.
He said that the two battalions are just part of some 15 battalions of army troops to be deployed in the area of Western Mindanao Command.
“I think there are around 15 battalions that were sent there from different brigades all over the Philippines. It is an adherence to the focus of President Rodrigo Duterte against (terrorism),” he said.
Batchar said that aside from the ranger battalion, the 10th ID chose the 69th IB because “it is one of the most outstanding battalions in Davao region.”
The 69th IB covers the Maragusan town in Compostela Valley and was instrumental in the killing of New People’s Army commander Leoncio Pitao, aka Ka Parago in June 26, 2015.
“They are very instrumental in neutralization of Leoncio “Kumander Parago” Pitao and they are also holding some area in Paquibato District,” he said.
Ka Parago is considered the most “elusive” NPA commander in the Davao region, and had the distinction of being the only NPA commander in the country to have captured the highest ranking military officer when his unit captured B/Gen. Victor Obillo on February 17,1999.
Meanwhile, Batchar said that the pullout of the troops to Western Mindanao would not affect the operation here since the 71st IB would take over the areas of the 69th IB.
He said the Army will have to readjust their troops and will just request to the headquarters if they lack soldiers.
The spokesperson did not give a time span on when the troops will be back in Davao region. He said “as long as the service of the Army is needed in the Western Mindanao then they will be available.” (davaotoday.com)