MANILA, Philippines - More troops will be sent to Western Mindanao following reports that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is recruiting members in the country.
Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. ordered the 501st Infantry Brigade and attached units redeployed from Northern Luzon to strengthen security in the Zamboanga peninsula and the Sulu archipelago.
The provinces of Kalinga, Apayao, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Nueva Vizcaya and Benguet and Baguio City are now under the protection of the 5th Infantry Division based in Gamu, Isabela.
Public affairs chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said the Armed Forces has already turned over the anti-insurgency operations in these provinces to the local government.
“As a result of this, the Armed Forces is exercising its flexibility by realigning our units so that we can focus our security operations in areas that are more affected by armed conflicts,” he said.
Two Army battalions will join the 501st brigade.
The 21st Infantry Battalion and the 41st Infantry Battalion will be redeployed in the Zamboanga peninsula and the 501st Brigade headquarters moved to Sulu.
It is the second time that troops from the 5th Infantry Division have been sent to Mindanao.
In January 2010, the 45th battalion was deployed to Maguindanao.
Zagala said the redeployment is part of a plan to deal with internal and external security situations.
“Our assurance is that we will all benefit from this move,” he said.
A sendoff ceremony was held for the 501st Infantry Brigade and the 41st Infantry Battalion in Cauayan City, Isabela yesterday.