STA. ANA, Cagayan - Hundreds of soldiers arrived at Port Irene here, Friday, a week after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Navy to "chase out" any foreign vessel conducting research in the Philippine Rise.
The arrival of Marine Battalion Landing Team 8 in the province is the "largest deployment of Marines" to Cagayan Valley, officials of the North Luzon Command said.
"Not only troops, we are privileged to have additional platforms that include air and sea assets to be able to ensure our regular maritime patrol in the Philippine Rise," Northern Luzon Command Commanding General Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat said.
Duterte gave the order to enhance patrols in the Philippine Rise after a Chinese official allegedly said that the underwater plateau off the coast of Quezon was open for all.
The troops are also expected to help in protecting the public from all threats to national security, particularly from members of the New People's Army.
"We will exert our best efforts, on the order of the President, to degrade the communist NPA terrorist capability here in Northern Luzon," Salamat said.
The battalion is expected to operate in the municipalities of Sta. Ana, Buguey, Gonzaga, Camalanlugan, Sta. Teresita, Lallo, and Aparri where around 400 communist rebels are said to be hiding.