PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) chief, General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar on Thursday said they have noted a massive reduction in the strength of the New People’s Army and their guerrilla fronts in Southern Mindanao amid the continuing surrender of many of their members.
He said data from the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) indicated that a total of 18,433 communist rebels have surrendered to the government since 2016, including 92 “child soldiers.”
In a meeting with Army’s 10th Infantry Division commander, Major Gen. Ernesto C. Torres, the PNP chief said he learned that the number of communist armed groups in Southern Mindanao has been reduced from 23 to just six.
“This could be attributed to the intensified anti-communist insurgency campaign of the Duterte administration. The PNP welcomes this huge development in the government’s campaign against communist insurgency. Kaagapay tayo ng militar sa pagsugpo sa mga rebeldeng ito. The dwindling number of guerilla fronts only proves that the administration’s efforts against the communist rebels is effective,” Gen. Eleazar added.
The Police Regional Office 11 (PRO11) headed by Brigadier Gen Filmore B. Escobal has also noted a reduction in NPA strength in the region with the decision of many of their members to yield due to their hard life in the mountains and avail of the government’s comprehensive livelihood program for rebel returnees.
“Marami na din ang naitatalang mga rebelde na sumuko na sa gobyerno. Napagtanto na ng mga ito na walang kabuluhan ang ideolohiya na itinuro sa kanila at walang saysay ang isinusulong na armadong pakikipaglaban ng CPP/NPA na ang inaatake ay pawang mga tahimik na komunidad at inosenteng sibilyan,” Gen. Eleazar said.
He explained that this latest development would serve to motivate the police and the military to strive harder in ending the communist insurgency.
The top cop also urged remaining rebels in Southern Mindanao and other parts of the country to lay down their arms, return to the fold of the law and avail of reintegration and livelihood programs being offered by the government.
“Hindi pa huli ang lahat. Maaari pa kayong magbalik-loob sa gobyerno at magbagong-buhay,” he said.