By Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Visayas Command (Viscom) said government forces continue to gain ground as 40 alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were neutralized in the Visayas region last month.
According to Viscom, a total of 15 encounters have been reported in a month, leading to the death of 17 NPA rebels in encounters and the surrender of 23 others.
The casualties included the 10 deaths in a series of clashes in Negros island, particularly in the towns of Moises Padilla and Cauayan in Negros Occidental, and Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental on May 20 and 21.
Also, 54 firearms were seized during the period – 38 were recovered in clashes, 7 were discovered through information provided by former rebels, and 9 were surrendered.
Moreover, a total of 562 NPA supporters withdrew their support and pledged their allegiance to the government.
This mass withdrawal of support led to the neutralization of the NPA’s support system, and the collapse of several political-military structures established by the group in areas of Samar and Northern Samar, according to Viscom.
In a statement, Lieutenant General Benedict Arevalo, commander of AFP-Viscom, said “the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA in the Visayas region has been substantially weakened.”
The NPA has incurred devastating losses in their manpower and armed capability and the collapse of their support system from the community, he added.
Hence, Arevalo said that focused military operations will continue.