Cordillera ‘last bastion’ of insurgency in Northern Luzon, says Nolcom chief
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga — The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) remains the last bastion of communist insurgency in Northern and Central Luzon after the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) has cleared the regions of Ilocos, Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon, the top military commander in the area said.
“We have very good prospects. There are no more influenced barangays in Nolcom’s territory. Close to 10,000 villages are zero-influenced by insurgents,” Lieutenant General Ernesto Torres told reporters Tuesday during the fellowship of the newly revived Nolcom Defense Press Corps in Camp Aquino, Tarlac City.
Torres said these villages have also declared the CPP-NDF-NPA [Communist Party of the Philippines, National Democratic Front, and New People’s Army] persona non grata (unwelcomed persons or groups),”
“Cordillera is probably the last bastion,” Torres said, adding that Nolcom would continue to combine developmental and military approaches to counterinsurgency, referring to the work of various agencies in the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, a program launched during the Duterte administration.
The Cordillera consists of the provinces of Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province, with Baguio City as its regional center.
Torres did not cite the number of Red fighters in the Cordillera or how many guerrilla fronts exist there now.
NPA spokespersons have previously accused the military of spreading false information about the results of armed clashes.
“We will embrace them, ensure their safety when they decide to return to the folds of the law,” Torres added.
At the Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Committee Area meeting on Sept. 30 with the Area Police Command-Northern Luzon, Torres reported that Nolcom units had neutralized 30 rebels and caused 58 people to withdraw support for the NPA.
According to him, Nolcom recovered 52 firearms and three anti-personnel mines in the same period.
A total of 772 ex-rebels were aided in availing of Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program benefits since January.
The military and police, Torres said, conducted 11,724 counter-terror operations and 4,495 joint law enforcement operations against illegal fishing and logging operations, marijuana planting and harvesting, including the recovery of firearms and bodies. INQ
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