ILOILO CITY – The Philippine Army’s 301st Infantry Brigade (301 IB) is eyeing 15 more detachments for the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) in Panay Island.
Col. Benedict Arevalo, 301 IB commander, said more CAFGU detachments means countering the strength of the New People’s Army (NPA), which are numbered to be around 200 rebels.
“We should not be complacent because our enemies can become stronger since some of our forces are now outside Panay,” noted Arevalo, who had a courtesy call on Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. of Iloilo province.
In June 2017, NPA rebels stormed the police station in Maasin town, Iloilo province and disarmed cops on duty. It came a day after 525 soldiers from the 82nd Infantry Battalion (82 IB) were pulled out from Iloilo and deployed to Marawi City to fight the Maute terrorist group.
Since then, the NPA stepped up its attacks in other parts of Panay Island including in Antique and Capiz provinces. NPA rebels have also killed and wounded cops.
There are currently 42 CAFGU detachments spread across Aklan, Antique, Capiz, and Iloilo provinces. The 15 new detachments will be constructed in key areas of Calinog, Maasin, Lambunao and Miag-ao towns in Iloilo as well as in Dumarao and Tapaz towns in Capiz.
According to Arevalo, the 15 new detachments need at least 500 CAFGU volunteers. Recruitment has started.
Due to security reasons, Arevalo did not disclose how many CAFGU personnel will be deployed in each detachment, but he said it will be a “sizable number”.
“We will just finish the numbers and we will establish the detachments,” he said.
Meanwhile, the additional 15 CAFGU detachments will also augment other law enforcement in security preparations for the 2019 mid-term elections. (Tara Yap)