DESPITE DUTERTE’S ALL-OUT
BY ROGER M. BALANZA
The New People’s Army (NPA) said its armed fighters, under 46 guerilla fronts, continue to operate in 20 provinces in Mindanao, covering 200 towns and 2,000 villages, despite military claim the communist movement is on the wane.
Joaquin Jacinto, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Mindanao, made the claim in a statement on March 29 as the NPA celebrated its 49th founding anniversary.
Despite the all-out attacks of the Duterte administration, the NPA continues to operate 46 rebel fronts in Mindanao, said Jacinto.
Jacinto’s statement also belittled reports of mass surrenders of members of the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), that the military claimed dealt a big blow on the rebels.
In Southern Mindanao in Davao Region, more than 3,000 regular members and supporters of the communist rebels have surrendered in January, February and March this year and expressed support to the government, according to AFP Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) Public Information Officer Major Ezra Balagtey.
The Mindanao spokesman of the NDFP, the political arm of the CPP, tagged the rebel surrenderees as “fake rebels.”
President Rodrigo Duterte late last year ordered a full-scale war against the CPP/NPA/NDFP combine after terminating peace negotiations with the rebels and declaring the CPP and NPA as “terrorist organizations.”
Duterte accused the CPP/NPA/NDFP of atrocities against civilians and government troops even as the peace talks were ongoing.