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PIA Press Release

Military adds more troops in fight vs NPA

Quezon City (21 October) -- THE MILITARY will recruit as many as 11,000 troops -- 3,000 soldiers and 8,000 new militiamen -- to boost efforts cut the strength of communist guerillas in their bailiwicks by half before 2010, Armed Forces chief of staff, General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said Friday.

The fight against the New People's Army (NPA) will focus on the "most advanced guerilla fronts": the Southern Luzon and Bicol regions as "first priority" and the Davao, Samar, and Caraga regions as "second priority," Esperon told a command conference in Camp Aguinaldo late in the afternoon.

Rebel strength, he said, "will be reduced to an inconsequential level, meaning the reduction of their capability by 50 percent."

"This effort shall include preventing their expansion in white areas, or urban areas, to cut off operational, logistical, and financial support," he added.

The strength of the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), has been pegged at 7,400.

Esperon said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has approved the fresh recruitments.

Half of the 3,000 new troops will act as "cadres" and command militiamen, while the other half will augment present maneuver units.

Esperon said Arroyo has approved the formation of as many as 90 Civilian Armed Forces Geographic Unit (CAFGU) companies, each with 88 to 100 troops.

"They [CAFGUs] shall serve and act as village defense or stay behind forces as our maneuver units move to their next targets," Esperon said.

"Let me just say that the AFP's collective efforts have yielded encouraging results. In this connection, I am commending our troops especially those in the frontlines for a job well done," the military chief told other top brass. (PIA) [top]

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