Rebels’ second chance in life is 3ID’s greatest achievement

By: Jennifer P. Rendon 

In 2019, members of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division traded shots 36 times with suspected Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) members.

The number is 71 percent higher compared to 21 encounters in 2018. Most of these encounters happened in Negros Island with 22, while 14 occurred in Panay Island.

Captain Cenon Pancito III, 3rd ID spokesperson, said they give weight on armed engagement to measure how far they have come in anti-insurgency operations.

“While it was a big thing, there’s more to our accomplishments than just armed clashes,” he said.

In fact, the AFP’s Joint Task Force (JTF) SPEAR recorded numerous significant accomplishments both in security, peace and development efforts in Central and Western Visayas in 2019.

But for Brigadier-General Eric Vinoya, JTF Spear commander and 3ID chief, nothing could be greater than giving rebels a second chance in life.

Vinoya said one of the task force’s notable accomplishments is the decommissioning of 727 members and 337 firearms of Kapatiran para sa Progresibong Panlipunan, Inc (Kapatiran), formerly known as Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade-Tabara Paduano Group (RPM-P/RPA/ABB/TPG.

Led by President Rodrigo Duterte, the formal decommissioning in September 2019 can be considered as a significant milestone in the history of localized peace talks in the Visayas region.

Aside from the RPA-ABB former combatants, the JTF Spear also welcomed 259 regular members and CPP-NPA Militia ng Bayan members who rejected and abandoned the armed struggle and voluntarily turned themselves to the government.

Of the 259 surrenderees, 45 are from Panay Island and 214 from Negros Island.

A total of 125 firearms were yielded from the surrenders.

“A new and peaceful life is the best gift we can give to our brothers and sisters who are victims of the deceitful and selfish communist-terrorist armed struggle. And, giving them a life they are longing for is also our greatest accomplishment for CY 2019,” Vinoya said.



The 36 clashes waged by JTF Spear’s land components from different 3ID’s infantry brigades and battalions prevented the CPP-NPA rebels’ plans to stage attacks not only against the government forces and vital installations but also to the people of Central and Western Visayas.

Vinoya said the task force’s initiated focused military operations led to the neutralization/killing of 10 communist-terrorists and capture of 29 others; seizure of 107 firearms and 38 anti-personnel land mines, and capture/discovery of 18 CNTs encampments.

During this period, the JTF Spear, through the Joint Internal Security Operation (ISO) with Police Regional Office 6 and Police Regional Office 7, actively supported the conduct of joint law enforcement operations and joint combat operations that resulted to the disruption of the enemy’s plans to cast any forms of hostile activities.



In times of adversities and calamities, the JTF Spear also performed non-traditional role of serving and ensuring the welfare of the Visayans.

The Task Force, through the Philippine Army General Hospital and Camp Peralta Station Hospital, sent doctors and nurses to Iloilo City Hydration Center in La Paz district to augment the anti-dengue efforts of the City Government.

The 3rd ID also provided folding beds and tents to Iloilo City Government for dengue patients who overflowed in government hospitals.

During the Iloilo Strait tragedy, the task force, through the Tactical Operations Group 6 (TOG 6), participated in the search and retrieval operations for the missing victims.

After Typhoon Ursula battered Panay Island, the 3ID through its line units in partnership with other agencies and organizations, actively conducted disaster and relief operations benefitting 2, 350 families from three affected barangays in Northern Panay.



Amid these accomplishments, Vinoya reiterated his call to CPP-NPA leaders and members to surrender “before they will be hit by the full force of the JTF Spear,” Vinoya said.

He added that the communist-terrorists can expect more intensified combat operations against them for they are serious in fulfilling every Visayan’s desire for the CPP-NPA and violence-free community.

“As we intensify all of our military operations with the assurance of putting the primacy of human rights and the peace process on top of it, we are also doubling our efforts for localized peace talks as our means of ending the decades-long communist armed conflict,” he said.

To avoid death and other misfortunes in the mountains, Vinoya stressed that the rebels have to leave the armed struggle and accept the government’s offer of peace.