The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday urged New People’s Army (NPA) rebels to surrender or suffer the same fate of their cohorts who were killed in military operations.
“While we are hopeful that more NPAs will surrender in the coming days, our troops on the ground will continue with our relentless operations against them who remain active in their violent and destructive criminal activities against our people in the communities,” AFP public affairs chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said in a statement.
This comes after the death of 14 NPA members in a clash with police and troops from the Philippine Air Force’s 730th Combat Group in Nasugbu, Batangas on Tuesday.
Among those killed were the secretary of NPA Guerilla Unit 3 and one platoon leader while two other fighters were wounded.
Government troops also seized 12 high-powered firearms from the encounter site.
Five soldiers, meanwhile. suffered minor injuries but are now in stable condition.
Last November 23, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation No. 360 which scrapped peace negotiations between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
“Prior to the President’s proclamation, we have been actively conducting counterinsurgency operations against the NPA since the peace negotiations broke down in February 4,” Arevalo said.
In November alone, the military was able to neutralize 119 NPAs. Of this, 21 were killed in operations, 29 were apprehended, and 69 voluntarily surrendered.
Government troops also gained 62 high-powered and low-powered firearms from the rebels in the past month.
With this, the AFP said it is bracing for more NPA atrocities, primarily in the nature of economic sabotage.
“These violent activities by the NPA seek to falsely project that they are still a force to reckon. There is an ostensible leadership vacuum caused by the death of ranking NPA members in the past months resulting to the decreasing capability of the rebel group,” Arevalo said.
As of November, the AFP recorded 47 NPA-initiated atrocities that include harassment and ambush of military troops, and kidnapping of civilians. (PNA)