AFP redeploys Mindanao-based troops to known NPA hotbed Samar, Panay
MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has redeployed its forces from Mindanao to the provinces of Samar and Panay, where the communist New People’s Army (NPA) reportedly maintains a strong presence.
AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Andres Centino on Wednesday said this was in line with the instruction of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to intensify focused military operations to crush the world’s longest running Maoist insurgency.
“On the part of the AFP, one of the tasks given to us earlier during the meeting with the NTF-Elcac (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) is to intensify focused military operations,” Centino said during a Palace press briefing.
“We are doing exactly just that, making sure we have sufficient forces in areas we are needed,” Centino also said. “We have cleared some areas in some parts of Western Mindanao and Eastern Mindanao, this is why we are able to redeploy forces in areas like Samar, in Panay to make sure that, appropriately, we can address what remains of insurgents.”
This comes as National Security Adviser Eduardo Año declared “strategic victory” of the government over the NPA.
Año said 75 percent of all NPA guerilla fronts have been dismantled with only 22 out of the original 89 fronts still existing.
Of the 22 left, 20 are weakened and the remaining two are the subject of focused military operations.
“The President … directed the Task Force to intensify its efforts since we have already attained strategic victory,” Año said in the same press briefing.
Established on March 29, 1969, the NPA has currently around 2,112 forces with 1,800 weapons in its arsenal, according to latest military estimates.
At its height, it had 25,000 members in 1987, according to Philippine military estimates.