BACOLOD CITY – The Philippine Army’s 94th Infantry Battalion (IB) is optimistic about defeating the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in central Negros with sufficient manpower and support from the communities.

As of Thursday, Himamaylan City and Binalbagan town in Negros Occidental and the municipalities of Tayasan and Manjuyod in Negros Oriental are considered strategic areas in the 94IB’s operations.

“We have more than enough forces. We consider the NPA in central Negros as just roving bandits,” Lt. Col. Van Donald Almonte, commander of 94IB, said over the Provincial Capitol’s Radyo Negrense.

The 94IB, with headquarters in Ayungon, Negros Oriental, also covers seven villages in Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental, as well as the municipalities of Jimalalud, Tayasan, and Bindoy on the Oriental side.

Almonte said in his past four months as the battalion’s commanding officer, his troops have engaged communist rebels in clashes that mostly took place in Himamaylan City, and also neighboring Binalbagan.

On July 6, joint forces of the 94IB, 33rd Division Reconnaissance Company, and Negros Occidental Police Mobile Force Company neutralized four fighters of the NPA’s Central Negros Front 2 - Komiteng Rehiyon Negros during an encounter in Sitio Amilis, Barangay Santol in Binalbagan town.

Almonte said the CPP-NPA continues to recruit young people to fight against the government and replace the aging cadres and combatants.

He emphasized that parents should be aware of the company their children keep and should also be alarmed once they start joining protest rallies because it is where the recruitment starts.

“They should fear those who pretend to be good with intention as they plan to take their children away,” he said, adding that the CPP-NPA also targets out-of-school youth in remote areas.

Almonte said aside from implementing the government’s holistic approach to fighting insurgency under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, they also work with other sectors in the communities.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The National Democratic Front has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)