Army anti-rebel campaigns to pound hard on Sorsogon, Masbate; human rights watch groups on alert

Red fighters on formation while the song, “International” is being sang. BICOLTODAY.COM PHOTO
Red fighters on formation while the song, “International” is being sang. BICOLTODAY.COM PHOTO

By News Team

SORSOGON CITY – The full weight of the State anti-insurgency campaign in the Bicol Region has now focus on Sorsogon and Masbate, an objective to destroy before the year-end the combat capabilities of rebels entrenched in the two provinces, an Army officer said.

The shift in State military operation policy in the Bicol Region has alarmed human rights watch groups, including Karapatan, anticipating rise of human rights violations to be committed on citizens in the coming months.

According to reports from the UN Commissioner on Human Rights, the Philippine military has a very bad record of human rights violations committed against its own citizens inside areas of internal conflict.

Col. Cesar Idio, said Sorsogon will be declared as “conflict-manageable area and ready for further development (CMARFD)” before 2015 ends as the military focuses its attention to the province.

Masbate is set to be declared as ”conflict manageable area” by next year, Idio said.

Meaning, the anti-insurgency campaign has shifted its focus to the two provinces.

Rebel strongholds in the two provinces, since the other year, have been enduring the brunt of State military offensives.

Clashes between the Philippine Army (PA) and the New People’s Army (NPA) have been occurring in regularity.

This shift of Army campaign on the two provinces has alerted human rights watch groups as continuing military campaigns shall take heavy tolls on dislocation of civilians, evacuations, rise of extra-judicial killings and increasing number of human rights violations against citizens.

Col. Idio is commanding officer of the 903rd Infantry Brigade which has jurisdiction over Sorsogon and Masbate.

Idio was one of the guests at the turn-over ceremony of the Sorsogon police provincial command to Senior Supt. Marlon Tejada as new police provincial director from out-going director, Senior Supt. Bernard Banac.

According to PA reports, Sorsogon and Masbate are the two remaining Bicol provinces not yet declared as “conflict manageable areas” following the government’s intensified anti-insurgency campaign in the region.

Meaning, the PA has incurred difficulties in decimating rebel operations in the two provinces according to its previous timetable.

The military has already declared the provinces of Camarines Norte, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur and Albay as “conflict-manageable areas”.

Idio said the four provinces were the priority in previous years, based on the campaign plan of the Southern Luzon Command, which takes into account the strategic significance of the particular area.

As defined, a “conflict-manageable area” must meet some of the parameters for such declaration like the significant reduction of insurgency-related activities, introduction of more development programs, increase in tourism, and the significant improvement in the security aspect of the area. []


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