TACLOBAN CITY- The spokesperson of the Philippine Army in the region has claimed that they are gaining some momentum on their campaign against the members of the New People’s Army.
According to Captain Amado Gutierrez, spokesperson of the 8th Infantry Division based in Catbalogan City, said that 34 alleged members of the rebel group were “neutralized” by government troops covering the first quarter of this year.
“On manpower, 26 rebels surrendered, seven were arrested and one was killed during an encounter, for a total of 34 rebels neutralized. On the part of the 8ID, one soldier was killed in action, while two were wounded in action,” Gutierrez said.
He added that government troops were able to recover five high powered firearms and 14 low powered firearms.
The Army spokesman added that 8th ID was able to hand over five of the 26 towns in Samar province and 10 of the 24 towns in Northern Samar province to their local government units as manageable conflict-affected and development-ready areas (MCADR) which is “a manifestation that the NPA rebels have lost their influence in these 15 towns that were handed over.”
“The provinces of Samar and Northern Samar in their entirety are scheduled to be handed over by 8ID to their respective provincial peace and order councils in June 2014 and December 2014 as MCADR areas,” Gutierrez added.
Maj. Gen. Jet Velarmino, commanding general of the 8th ID, said that they expect “strong resistance” from the rebels now that they are nearing of getting their goal which is to reduce the capability of the NPA to stage major attacks.
“But the rebels will not be able to stop the inevitable. In the coming months, we will press on with the fight but we welcome peaceful resolution to this armed conflict being waged by the NPA rebels. To pre-empt violence, we invite all stakeholders to get involved in winning the peace by pressuring the rebels to return to the mainstream and to abandon armed struggle. We all need peace for the security and well-being of our people and sustainable development in the region,” Velarmino added. (RONALD O. REYES)