BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/25 April)– About 400 troops from the Marine Battalion Landing Team 3 (MBLT-3) have arrived here to help the Army’s 4th Infantry Division secure the May 13, 2013 national midterm and local elections.
Major General Nestor Añonuevo, 4th ID commander, said the Marines have set up their headquarters at Camp Bancasi here.
“They are in the region as part of the government’s contingency plan to aid in providing security and as additional forces for the May elections,” he said.
Añonuevo said the Marines will be deployed in Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental and its neighboring areas.
The deployment was partly triggered by what happened in Gingoog City, he said, referring to the ambush last Saturday on the convoy of Gingoog City Mayor Ruthie Guingona, wife of former Vice President Teofisto Guingona.
The mayor was wounded while two of her security aides died in the ambush carried out by the New People’s Army rebels.
Jorge Madlos, National Democratic Front-Mindanao spokesman, had issued an apology over the incident.
Añonuevo said the deployment of the Marines to Misamis Oriental will start after they get orientations on the cultural traditions of the people in the area.
Lt. Col. Elpedio Factor, MBLT-3 commander, said they started arriving last Monday and fully completed by Tuesday morning.
“It took four C-130 flights from Manila to bring the entire battalion consisting of five Marine companies here in Butuan,” he said.
“Even though it is our first time here, we are used to be deployed anywhere in the Philippines since we are considered as a national maneuver force able to operate anywhere,” Factor added.
The official said their primary objective is to ensure “the peaceful conduct of elections” along with the troops of the 4th ID.
He said it is still not known if they will be staying in Caraga region after the elections.
MBLT-3’s previous assignments in Mindanao include Basilan, North Cotabato, Maguindanao and Sarangani and in General Santos City. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)