TACLOBAN CITY – The month-long intensified campaign against the New People’s Army (NPA) is gaining grounds in Eastern Visayas region, the Philippine Army reported on Monday.
Since the launching of the campaign last August 1, seven NPA lairs have been discovered with nine gun battles fought, resulting in the death of four armed rebels, the Army’s 8th Infantry Division (ID) said.
The military has also recovered 14 assorted firearms, 14 backpacks, and several magazines and ammunition.
“The government troops also suffered casualties because the NPAs used an improvised explosive device (IED), which is against the International Humanitarian Law (IHL). But despite the use of IEDs, the NPAs were forced to vacate their encampments and fled towards different directions to save their lives from the pursuing government troops,” said Major Bard Caesar Mazo, officer-in-charge of 8th ID’s public affairs office.
The military lauded residents for providing government troops with information. These informants decided to support government troops after suffering from extortion and forced collection of food by the jobless armed fighters, the military added.
The NPA, which has been waging a five-decade armed struggle against the government, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
“Soldiers will never stop hunting the communist NPA terrorists. The NPAs can run but they cannot hide. Their best option is to return to the folds of the law and use the benefits being offered by the government under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) to start new lives,” Mazo added.
Under E-CLIP, each former rebel is granted immediate assistance of P15,000 and livelihood assistance of P50,000. There are also other benefits specified in the E-CLIP implementing guidelines.
The 8th ID vowed to continue intensified combat operations to protect communities in the region through its more than 7,000 combat troops.