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NPA in crisis: AFP expects more communist rebels to surrender

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The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday said it expected more New People’s Army (NPA) members to give up and lay down their arms in the coming months.

The AFP made the statement following the surrender of 52 NPA rebels to government forces in September.

“The surge of NPA surrenders over the past month is a positive result of the AFP’s robust and incessant combined intelligence, combat, and civil-military operations. It is also a product of the active cooperation of our stakeholders, particularly of the support given by the communities and local government units within our areas of operation,” AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said in a statement.

“It is apparent through the statement of those who surrendered that their comrades are now experiencing hardships within their organization, and they are willing to avail of the opportunities being offered by the government to former NPA rebels,” he added.

Some seven communist rebels voluntarily surrendered and turned over two AK47 rifles and a Caliber .45 Remington to the Joint Task Force ZamPeLan in Zamboanga Sibugay on September 20.

Meanwhile, the surrender of nine other NPA rebels to troops of the 33rd Infantry Battalion in Sultan Kudarat on September 23 yielded six improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

At present, the government offers financial and livelihood aid to rebel returnees under the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP).

Meanwhile, a corresponding amount of assistance with additional capital will be given to former rebels who surrender firearms for their livelihood to help them go back to the fold of the law.

Arevalo said “the AFP has already neutralized 566 communist terrorists since the termination of peace talks on February 4, 2017.”

Of this number, 378 voluntarily surrendered to military units or to the local government units within northeastern Mindanao, according to Arevalo.

Ongoing combat operations led to the death of 118 NPA fighters, arrest 70 members, recovery of 159 firearms.

A total of 133 weapons were surrendered or turned over by the rebels to government troops.

“The leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines salutes our brave soldiers on the field who continue to risk their lives in order to stop the violent activities being perpetrated by the communist terrorists New People’s Army against our innocent citizens,” AFP chief of staff General Eduardo Año said. (PNA)