Gov’t pooh-poohs Reds’ claim of strength
The government dismissed claims by the insurgent New People’s Army (New People’s Army) that it was gaining strength in Mindanao and other parts of the country as “a figment of their imagination” and “nothing but propaganda.”
Army spokesperson Col. Benjamin Hao said on Sunday that based on the military’s anti-insurgency campaign, “the insurgency problem would cease next year by making their numbers insignificant and their cause irrelevant.”
He said the statement of Jorge Madlos, spokesperson of the communist NPA in Mindanao, that the insurgent fronts were growing was “a figment of the imagination that aims to excuse their failures and continuous dwindling of strength.”
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., in a government radio broadcast, called the claims “nothing but propaganda, citing statistics gathered by the Cabinet security cluster showing a decrease not only in the number of its forces but also in the number of its arms and even influence in Mindanao.
Military data cited
Coloma cited military data covering the 4th quarter as compared to the 2nd quarter as follows: a 17-percent drop in the number of forces [1,691 from 2,035]; a 25-percent drop of barangays affected by communist insurgency [414 from 547]; a 6-percent drop in the number of firearms and a 17-percent drop in the number of guerrilla fronts [24 from 29].
“So [its claims) are not true,” he said.
Lost a key leader
Hao, in a separate statement, cited similar statistics and also mentioned that the Mindanao rebels lost one of their key leaders earlier this year. Leonardo Pitao, alias “Parago,” was killed in an encounter in Davao City last June.
During the 47th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines last Saturday, the communist movement claimed their strength grew despite military offensives.
Madlos said they now have 46 guerilla fronts in Mindanao, up from the 40 guerilla fronts during President Aquino’s first year in office.
From 1,850 villages, the NPA reportedly expanded to 2,500 villages with a mass base of 200,000.
A rebel statement from Panay Island also claimed the increased number of attacks launched by the NPA on the island this year demonstrated the extensive troop positioning and depth of the mass base of the revolutionary movement in Panay.
The NPA in Panay surpassed the minimum number of tactical offensives per unit set by the guerrilla leadership, according to Julian Paisano, identified as the CPP regional spokesperson.
Both the government and communist rebels are now observing a 12-day Christmas and New Year ceasefire ending Jan. 3 next year. With a report from Nestor P. Burgos, Inquirer Visayas
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