AFP: Focused-military ops vs. NPA ‘successful’

MANILA — The ongoing focused-military operations are proving to be successful against the New People’s Army (NPA) guerillas, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo said Monday.

This was highlighted by the fact that the AFP has recorded 681 military operations against the NPAs starting from Jan. 1, 2017 to June 25 of this year, Arevalo said.

The AFP spokesperson said that all of these encounters are initiated by government troops.

Since 2017, Arevalo said AFP records show a downward trend on enemy atrocities.

“For year 2017, we have recorded a total of 455 communist terrorist group incidents while on the first semester of 2018, that’s (from) Jan. 1 to June 25, we have monitored 112 incidents,” Arevalo said.

Included in these incidents are arson. which decreased from 77 in 2017 to 18 in the first semester of 2018.

Moreover, cases of abduction/kidnapping “decreased also from 25 to only one, and intimidation from two to none”.

Arevalo said there were also incidents of ransacking of facilities “from six to three” aside from road blockade or checkpoint, that decreased from two to “zero incidents.”

Aside from the decline in NPA atrocities, the AFP spokesperson said that they have recorded the surrender of 6,659 NPA members, underground movement members, Militia ng Bayan members and other rebel supporters as of this year alone.

Sa bilang na yan (From this number), 59 ang nadakip (were arrested), ang napatay ay (those killed were) 68, ang firearms na nabawi o nakuha natin ay (seized firearms reached) 736. Combined na dyan ang low at saka (That is a combination of low and) high powered-firearms,” he added.

As of this posting, the AFP spokesperson estimated that there are only 3,900 armed regular members of the NPA nationwide.

Also, Arevalo said these surrenders are indication of the NPA’s dwindling strength brought about by pressure from constant hiding, fighting, hunger and generous government offer of livelihood assistance should they decide to lay down their arms.

In spite of these victories, the AFP spokesperson said the military continues to advocate for a just and lasting peace with the rebel groups.

But such agreements, especially those calling for a ceasefire, should be scrutinized closely as the NPAs could take advantage of these and proceed with their recruitment activities.

“Your AFP continues to advocate for peace, we are supportive of all peace efforts, national or local in order for us to have a lasting peace,” Arevalo said.

However, Arevalo said the real motive of the NPA in pushing for peace talks should be scrutinized as records and interviews with surrendered rebels tend to show that the NPA usually takes advantage of the talks to regroup, assemble and recruit new members.