Military: 11K NPAs, supporters neutralized

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    NEARLY 11,000 New People’s Army rebels and supporters have been “neutralized” by the Armed Forces last year as part of the continuing campaign to end the insurgency problem, according to a military report.

    Most of those neutralized — which means either killed or apprehended or have surrendered — were merely supporters as there were only about 3,500 NPA regulars as of end 2018 based on military estimates.

    The military report said that of the 10,938 who were neutralized, 10,520 regular NPA fighters, Militia ng Bayan (MB) members and supporters surrendered, 142 regular NPA rebels were killed, and 276 NPA regulars were apprehended.

    MB members are the counterpart of the military’s Cafgu personnel.

    The same report said 1,860 rebel firearms (925 high-powered and 935 low-powered) were seized during combat operations or have been turned over by those who returned to government.

    It also said 452 improvised explosive devices were either seized by troops or surrendered by the NPA and 449 NPA camps were seized.

    President Duterte has said it would be a monumental failure if the NPA is not defeated before the end of his term in 2022.

    AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said the military accomplishment in 2019 “indicates operational gains of the AFP attained through whole-of-nation endeavors to end local communist armed conflict.”

    Arevalo said the number of neutralized rebels “increased exponentially” but did not give previous figures.

    “We attribute this (accomplishment) to the high trust and confidence of our countrymen in the AFP. People now tip off CTG (communist terrorist group) presence in their localities resulting in AFP’s operational advantage,” said Arevalo.

    “Our folks no longer provide concealment or safe haven to the terrorists forcing them to be on the run constantly; and information as to their financiers and supporters were fed to us thereby cutting enemy logistics and financial support,” added Arevalo.

    Against the Abu Sayyaf, government forces neutralized 178 ASG members last year — 71 killed, 23 apprehended, and 84 surrendered. The government also seized 166 firearms, 69 improvised explosive devices, and 18 camps.

    The report also said 61 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters were neutralized (14 killed, 45 surrendered and two captured) last year while 107 members of the Maute Group were also neutralized (39 killed, 34 surrendered and 34 captured) in 2019.