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More troops sent to Mindanao amid NPA attacks

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 09:40:00 07/22/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The military has deployed additional tanks and hundreds more soldiers to eastern Mindanao in the wake of successive attacks by communist guerillas on business establishments, the regional military spokesman said Tuesday.

One mechanized infantry battalion and their armored vehicles and two Field Artillery Batteries arrived in Davao City from Manila on board a Landing Ship Tank of the Philippine Navy on Sunday, said Major Armand Rico, spokesman of the Armed Forces Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom).

Rico declined to specify the number of troops and vehicles of the augmentation force, citing security reasons.

On the average, an Army battalion is composed of around 500 while a company, which is the equivalent of a battery, is composed of around 100. The number is slightly lower in specialized units.

In the first quarter, 100 “atrocities” by the New People’s Army (NPA) were recorded in the Eastmincom area of jurisdiction. The count includes extortion attempts, killings, arson activities, and encounters with government forces, Rico said.

“This is for our ISO [internal security operations] mission. Our priority guerilla fronts are here. They will be deployed in the Compostela Valley-Davao area, where they have attacked businesses. This affected the economy and sowed terror among investors here,” Rico said, adding that governors and mayors requested for the troop augmentation.

“We are after troop mobility. Unlike in the infantry, we will deploy tanks whenever they can be deployed,” Rico said in a phone interview.

The latest attack happened on Sunday, when suspected New People’s Army rebels torched a drilling machine of the Sagittarius Mine in Davao del Sur province, allegedly due to the firm’s failure to pay “revolutionary tax.”

The NPA, which the military estimates to have around 5,000 fighters, is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which has been waging a guerilla campaign from the countryside for nearly four decades.

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2008-07-22T06:50:51+00:00UTC07bUTCTue, 22 Jul 2008 06:50:51 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am07

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