• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
As 2023 ended, the Communist Party of the Philippines New People’s Army in Visayas has been devastated, after suffering shattering blows and irrecoverable damages from government forces, according to the AFP Visayas Command.
The 162 government-initiated armed encounters that transpired throughout the Visayas region, 80 of which were in Eastern Visayas, while 82 were in Central and Western Visayas, led to the neutralization of 607 NPA rebels, of which 84 died during the encounters.
The VISCOM report further stated that 25 others were apprehended and 498 returned to the folds of the law.
Among those killed were high ranking CPP-NPA leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, Rogelio Posadas, secretary of the Komiteng Rehiyonal Negros/Cebu/Bohol/Siqujior, and its regional commander, Romeo Nanta.
In the same period, VISCOM reported the confiscation of 441 assorted firearms.
Five NPA guerilla fronts were also dismantled, including the KR NCBS Central Negros, Front Committee 1 and Front Committee 2 of Sub-Regional Committee Emporium (SRC Emporium); and Front 3 and Front 15 of Sub-Regional Committee Arctic (SRC Arctic) in Eastern Visayas.
The severe reduction of the manpower and armed capability of the CPP-NPA significantly contributed to the clearing of 343 NPA-infested communities, cooptation of 20 NPA-affected mass organizations, and the dismantling of 17 NPA-affected Sectoral Front Organizations, paving the way for the dismantling of five guerilla fronts during the period, as affirmed by the National Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Center (NJPSCC).
In a statement, VISCOM chief Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo lauded the troops for their “unrelenting efforts to end the local communist armed conflict in the region and free the people from the menace of the terrorist group.”
“This significant progress in our fight against the CPP-NPA is not only an accomplishment of the AFP but also the accomplishment of all the peace-loving people in the Visayas region, Arevalo said, as he also attributed it to the active support and collaboration of various local government units,
Amidst this significant progress in their internal security efforts, Arevalo admitted there is still much that needs to be done.
“As long as there are still unresolved issues in the community, the threat of resurgence will remain”, he stressed
Arevalo also acknowledged that the Barangay Development Program (BDP) served as the hallmark program of the NTF ELCAC, which aims to resolve the issues exploited by the CPP-NPA, capacitate the community, and prevent resurgence in previously declared cleared areas.
For the period, a total of 739 projects and programs under the BDP have been implemented throughout the Visayas region; 299 of which were in Eastern Visayas and 440 were in Central and Western Visayas.
For areas still awaiting the implementation of projects and programs under the BDP, a total of 120 Mobile Community Sustainment Support Teams (MCSST) were deployed by VISCOM to sustain their gains and prevent the resurgence of the CPP-NPA, VISCOM reports said.
Arevalo reiterated that there would be no let-up in their focused military operation, as he urged NPA remnants to return to the folds of the law.
“We urge the remnants of the CPP-NPA in the entire Visayas region to lay down their arms and return to the folds of the law, while they still can. Embrace the call of our government for reconciliation and join us in welcoming the new year with hope and aspiration of lasting peace and prosperity for all our people,” he added.*