National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos (File photo)

MANILA – National Security Adviser (NSA) Clarita Carlos lauded the Philippine Army troops for their triumph against the communist New People's Army (NPA) in a clash in Igbaras, Iloilo on Saturday.

The Philippine Army said an NPA member was killed and three high-powered firearms were recovered while no casualty was reported on their side.

Carlos, who is also vice chairperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), said their victory was a “milestone” in ongoing efforts to dismantle guerrilla fronts in the country.

"Napakalaki ng pasasalamat ko sa mga sundalo ng 61st Infantry Battalion para sa tagumpay na ito (I am very grateful to the soldiers of the 61st Infantry Battalion for this victory). This is a significant milestone in our mission of totally eliminating the communist influence in Visayas," Carlos said in a press statement on Sunday.

"Malinaw ang ating government policy at guidance ng Pangulo sa ating laban kontra insurgency (Our government policy and the President's guidance in our fight against insurgency are clear),” she added.

She also urged NPA members to surrender to avoid bloodshed.

“Patuloy ang ating panawagang pangkapayapaan para sa mga natitirang miyembro na nais ng magbalik-loob (Our call for peace continues for the remaining members who want to return to the government fold),” she said.

Carlos said the military will never neglect on its duty to protect Filipinos despite weakening NPA forces.

Meanwhile, 3rd Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Benedict Arevalo conveyed his sadness over what he described as another “pointless demise of another fellow Filipino.”

“As much as possible, we want to make them realize that joining armed struggle is not the answer to attaining societal change, and we don’t want another victim and lives to be wasted. We are so much concerned for their families suffering their loss,” Arevalo said.

On Friday, Carlos said the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. is keen on providing multi-faceted opportunities to former rebels as part of its counter-insurgency efforts and whole-of-nation approach against insurgent groups.

Carlos also underscored the importance of peacebuilding for economic growth.

"The magic word really is to ‘sustain’ it, because no economic growth will happen, whenever there is no peace and order," she said during the recent Regional Development Security Forum in Zamboanga City.

Under the Marcos administration, the NTF-ELCAC continues to intensify its delivery of its priority programs to encourage the remaining members of the rebel armed groups to avail the local integration program of the government and to return to the fold of the law. (With Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)