New AFP Visayas chief wants to further weaken CPP/NPA in region

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 16) — The Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) Visayas Command (Viscom) has a new commander who wants to focus on fighting communist insurgents in the Eastern Visayas region and weaken "enemies" there.

Major General Benedict Arevalo said the AFP wants to further weaken the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People's Army in the region.

"We want to look at the situation in the 8th Infantry Division. Titingnan natin yan [We have to see]., Arevalo said.

"If we can help out kasi meron din tayong mga priority fronts na kailangan nating i-address [because we also have priority fronts that need to be addressed]," he also said. "I think it will be in the 8th division area (based in Eastern Visayas)."

Aside from fighting the CPP-NPA, Arevalo said Viscom will also intensify its readiness to become the first responders of disaster and calamities in Eastern, Western, and Central Visayas regions.

He said the location of the Visayas makes it prone to disasters so Viscom needs to be ready for eventualities.

Arevalo, who was previously in charge of the fight against the CPP/NPA in Western and Central Visayas, said the "enemy's" forces have been weakened and the AFP has the upper-hand.

"Malaki na ang hinina ng ating kalaban," he declared. "Kailangan lang tuloy-tuloy at paigtingin ang operasyon at siguradong mas hihina pa ang ating kalaban."

[Translation: The enemy has greatly weakened. We just need to continue and to strengthen the operation, and to make sure to further weaken the enemy.]

Arevalo replaced Lt. Gen. Robert Dauz, who retired last Nov. 14.

Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro, the AFP chief of staff, was also present during the Turnover of Command ceremonies at Camp Lapulapu in Cebu City.

Bacarro called for a continuous campaign against communist insurgents especially in areas where there is still CPP/NPA presence.

Viscom is the AFP unit based in Cebu that covers the three regions in the Visayas.