67 guerrilla fronts dismantled as AFP ramps up drive vs. Reds

By Priam Nepomuceno

March 27, 2023, 3:13 pm

<p>AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar <em>(File photo)</em></p>

AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar (File photo)

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has the upper hand in its ongoing campaign to eliminate the security threat posed by the New People's Army (NPA) insurgents with the dismantling of 67 guerrilla fronts.

"This brings to a total of 67 guerrilla fronts dismantled, about three this year and that is from a total of 89 since 2016 so 67 guerrilla fronts dismantled leaving now the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) with 21 guerrilla fronts -- three active and 18 are weakened," AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar said during the online press conference conducted by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Monday.

This comes ahead of the 54th founding anniversary of the NPA, the CPP's armed wing, on Wednesday.

Medel also said AFP units have also neutralized 9,818 NPA members, of which 358 are key leaders of the insurgent organization.

The military has also recovered 11,013 firearms and liberated 3,340 barangays so far from the influence of the CPP-NPA.

For 2023 alone, Aguilar said the military has so far neutralized 189 CPP-NPA members, 26 of which are killed in encounters, with 22 arrested and 141 surrendered.

He also pointed out that 606 supporters also withdrew their support and membership from the different mass organizations established by the CPP with the AFP recovering 206 firearms for the first few months of this year.

"So these are (the) accomplishments that enabled the AFP to achieve strategic victory. With only 21 guerrilla fronts remaining, the strength of the CPP is reduced to more or less 2,000 with 1,817 firearms operating in 409 remaining conflict-affected areas, mostly in Negros and Samar provinces," Aguilar said.

He also pointed out that around 43,000 party members or supporters of the insurgent movement's underground mass organizations withdrew their support to the CPP.

Aguilar said this means the CPP-NPA no longer has the resources to recruit new members to make up for their losses.

Adding to the woes of the insurgents is the willingness of former NPA members to identify the deceptive approach of the CPP and thus effectively halting their recruiting and other activities aimed at boosting their dwindling resources, he added.

"So the AFP in coordination with other government agencies under the NTF-ELCAC will continue to exert pressure (until the insurgency threat is neutralized)," he added.

Aguilar also said they are calling on the Filipino people to help the AFP to help them "end this 54-year (old) communist insurgency" which has brought nothing but divisiveness to the nation besides slowing down its development.

Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Joel Alejandro Nacnac, director of the AFP Center for Law of Armed Conflict and concurrent Internal Auditor, said 2,859 soldiers and civilians have been killed in over 4,000 atrocities committed by the insurgents since the founding of the CPP in 1968.

He added that from 1969 to 2009, the insurgents committed 2,443 human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) violations, including the use of anti-personnel mines, willful killings and attacks against civilians.

Nacnac said these atrocities led to the death of 1,943 civilians and 367 soldiers and wounding of 382 civilians and 103 soldiers; and the destruction of 557 civilian properties.

From 2010 to 2022 when Republic Act 9851 or Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity took effect, the AFP recorded 1,999 human rights violations by the insurgents.

This resulted in the killing of 355 civilians and 194 soldiers and wounding of 227 soldiers and 154 civilians and the destruction of 1,366 civilian properties.

"If you add that (1,999 human rights violations from 2010 to 2022) up with the 2,443 (violations from 1968 to 2009), it appears that there (have been) about 4,000 plus violations since 1968," Nacnac stressed.

Nacnac said there could be more CPP-NPA violations, specifically during the 1968 to 2009 period. He said some incidents were not reflected in the figure due to (unavailability) of documents."

These CPP-NPA atrocities have already been documented and submitted to pertinent government agencies like the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

Nacnac said the DOJ will be responsible for case audits and case buildup while the CHR has already created technical working groups which will be investigating the reported CPP-NPA abuses. (PNA)