TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines – The military is shelving its plan to downgrade the Army’s 5th Infantry Division based in Isabela into a brigade due to the continuing insurgency problem in Northern Luzon.
Army chief Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista revealed this yesterday as he paid tribute to the 11 soldiers who were killed along with a civilian in a New People’s Army (NPA) ambush in Tinoc, Ifugao last Wednesday.
The slain soldiers were given necrological services attended by Bautista at the Army camp in Gamu, Isabela.
Bautista said the fight against insurgency continues and the Armed Forces targets to end it by 2016.
Bautista was reacting to an earlier disclosure by Col. Arnulfo Marcos, commander of the 502nd Infantry Brigade, of the military’s plan to downgrade the 5th ID based at Camp Melchor de la Cruz in Gamu, Isabela into a brigade.
Marcos said the plan was based on the military’s assessment that the NPA’s strength in Northern Luzon, including the Cordilleras, has waned.
Two days before last Wednesday’s ambush in Barangay Gumhang Binablayan, Tinoc town, government troops had overrun an NPA camp in Barangay Bannawel, Natonin, Mt. Province, where seven rebels, including a female fighter, were killed.
Meanwhile, Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Brawner Baguilat has condemned the NPA’s “treacherous and unprovoked attack.”
“As a brother of someone who died in the line of duty, I commiserate with and send my condolences to the 86th Infantry Battalion and the families of our brave soldiers who died in that devious attack,” he said yesterday. – With Jess Diaz - By Raymund Catindig