Brig. Gen. Maurito L. Licudine, commander of the Army’s 402nd Infantry Brigade based in Butuan City. (PNA file photo by Alexander Lopez)

BUTUAN CITY – The Army’s 402nd Infantry Brigade (402Bde) based here has extended its areas of operation (AOR) to provinces in Northern Mindanao, while relinquishing two battalions to the newly-assigned Army brigade in Caraga Region.

Brig. Gen. Maurito Licudine, 402Bde commander, said the brigade has already assumed operational control and jurisdiction over the 58th Infantry Battalion based in the town of Claveria, Misamis Oriental.

With the extended AOR, Licudine said the brigade now has operational control over the Army units in parts of Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon and Camiguin.

To further boost its operational effectiveness, Licudine said 402Bde relinquished its control over the Army’s 29th Infantry Battalion that covers the northern part of Agusan del Norte, and the Army’s 30th Infantry Battalion that covers the whole province of Surigao del Norte and the Province of Dinagat Islands, to the newly-assigned 901st Infantry Brigade (901Bde) in Caraga.

“The realignment of forces in the whole 4th Infantry Division (4ID) was out of necessity in the changing operational environment in order to focus its forces against confronted threats,” Licudine said in a statement Friday.

Jurisdiction

Meanwhile, the 402Bde continues to hold jurisdiction over the Army’s 23rd Infantry Battalion that covers part of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, and Misamis Oriental, while assuming operational control over the Army’s 26th Infantry Battalion from the 401st  Brigade (401Bde) that covers Agusan del Sur.

The 58IB is headed by Lt. Col. Ricky Canatoy; the 23IB is headed by Lt. Col. Julius Cesar Paulo; the 26IB is led by Lt. Col. Reynald Romel Goce.

The Army’s 36th Infantry Battalion that covers the first congressional district of Surigao del Sur was also transferred from 402Bde to 401Bde.

Licudine said with the support mechanism provided by the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC) through different clusters, the Army will “unleash the final blow to defeat the remnants of communist terrorist groups (CTGs) and end the insurgency in the brigade’s AOR in Northern Mindanao and Caraga.

Maj. Francisco Garello Jr., 402Bde civil-military operations officer, said Licudine already paid a visit to the headquarters of 58IB in Sitio Migbanday, Poblacion, Claveria, Misamis Oriental on June 24.

During the visit, Garello said Licudine met a high-ranking New People’s Army leader who surrendered to the unit last week.

Garello identified the NPA leader as “Dino”, subleader under the NPA’s North Central Mindanao Regional Committee.

“Alias Dino, upon his surrender, led the 58IB troopers to their hideout that resulted in the recovery of high-power firearms, assorted ammunition, and personal belongings of NPA rebels,” Garello said.

Licudine reiterated the full support of 402Bde to the former rebels through the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program that provides remuneration of surrendered firearms, cash, and livelihood assistance.

“We need to amplify and echo the sentiments of the former rebels so that many would understand the deceptive nature of the CTGs and eventually resolve this insurgency problem in an environment of peace and without bloodshed,” Licudine said. (PNA)