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MILITARY REPORT

52 alleged NPA rebels killed, 57 surrendered in Southern Luzon in 2017

LUCENA CITY – At least 52 alleged New People’s Army rebels were killed by state security forces in Southern Luzon last year, the commander of the Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) reported.

In a statement, Solcom Chief Lt. General Danilo Pamonag said some 57 alleged rebels also surrendered in Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions while 18 were captured by state troops.

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Government forces also recovered 96 high-powered firearms and 54 low-powered firearms from the NPA in 2017, Pamonag said.

“Last month, two NPA rebels were also killed but no casualties on the side of the government,” Pamonag said.

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Just this January, Pamonag added that 17 armed communist guerillas and 35 rebel supporters have also surrendered in Bicol.

“This indicates that more NPAs and their supporters have realized the futility of armed struggle and decided to leave the rebel group,” Pamonag said.

Pamonag said the government forces in Southern Luzon remained unfazed by threats of NPA attacks and are always ready to confront the communist guerillas.

Fake rebel returnees

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reported that 326 NPA members surrendered to the military in January alone.

The AFP estimated that from its peak in the late 1980s where the guerilla strength was more than 26,000, it is now down to only 3,700 fighters spread throughout the country.

But exiled Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison doubted the number of supposed NPA returnees.

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“Are these real NPA surrenderees or fake ones selected from relatives of barangay council members or from the ranks of military draftees?” Sison said on Friday.

The CPP slammed the military for turning the so-called NPA returnees into a media propaganda.

“The AFP’s PR-machinery is working double-time to turn so-called NPA surrenderees into a media spectacle and mount a propaganda offensive to paint the NPA as a waning force,” the CPP said in a statement last week.

The CPP alleged that the military has been making “more frequent and much bigger claims of NPA surrenderees” as part of its counter-insurgency operation “Oplan Kapayapaan”.

The CPP asked the public to look at the reported surrenders of NPA rebels “with a healthy dose of skepticism”.

“It is a well-known fact that the decades-long multi-billion peso ‘Balik Baril’ Program, CLIP (Comprehensive Local Integration Program) and other programs are AFP money-making rackets where field and division commanders recycle surrendered weapons and come up with lists of ghost NPA surrenderees, typically village-folk falsely accused of being NPA members,” the CPP said.

Though it admits that the surrender of few communist guerillas “form part of the realities of war,” the CPP asserted that: “This, however, does not represent a trend nor does it negate in any way the reasons that compel more and more Filipinos to rise up and resist in various forms of struggle, including the armed struggle.”                   /kga

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TAGS: AFP, Insurgency, NPA, SOLCOM, Southern Luzon
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