M/Gen. de Leon sees end in EV’s insurgency in 2022
TACLOBAN CITY-Eastern Visayas top military official, Major Gen. Edgardo de Leon, called on the members of the communist armed group, the New People’s Army (NPA), to return to the folds of the law as he warned them that the government forces in the region will not hesitate to use all of its weapons to end their armed struggle.
de Leon made this remark as he witnessed the surrender of two former regular members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and the more than 150 sympathizers of the outlawed armed group in Tacloban City last Dec.11.
According to de Leon, as part of the marching order from their higher ups, he wants to see the end of the insurgency problem in Eastern Visayas before the end of the term of the administration of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte.
The Duterte administration is to end its reign on June 30, 2022.
“We will not hesitate to use our military might to end the insurgency (in the region) which we aim to do before the end of the term of Pres. Duterte,” de Leon said.
He said that based on their record, there are only more than 300 regular NPA members operating in the region, with most of them are in the provinces of Samar, Eastern Samar, and Northern Samar.
He added that as part of their campaign to crush the region’s insurgency problem, the military will first clear 80 barangays in the region that are still considered infiltrated or influenced by the NPA members.
Majority of these villages are located on Samar Island.
de Leon said that the clearing of these villages will be done not only through military operations but by providing services and programs to these areas with the help of other government agencies under the “whole of nation approach” as provided under the End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) program of the government.
This year, the military in the region scored its biggest victory when it destroyed the bomb-making camp of the rebel group in Dolores town, Eastern Samar last August 16 which resulted in the deaths of 19 rebels.
No casualty was recorded in the military side which conducted an air and land assault in the bomb-making facility in Barangay Osmeña of the said town.
de Leon said that the government is offering incentives to those who surrender like providing them financial and livelihood assistance for them to start a new life.
He reiterated that if these rebels will continue to fight against the government despite of its “left-hand approach”, referring to the assistance, then the military has no recourse but to use the “right-hand approach”, referring to the use of weapons through tactical operations.
de Leon said that since the ELCAC was started in 2019, 61 rebels were killed; 190 of them have surrendered, and; 46 of them were captured.
Among those who surrendered was “Ka Danny,” 47, who was recruited in the armed group in 2018.
He, however, started as a mass rally organizer in 2005 before he started to carry firearms as a regular NPA member.
Ka Danny was among the two former regular NPA members who surrendered to the government and took his pledge of allegiance to the government on Friday with de Leon witnessing the event held at the People’s Center, this city.
The former rebel said that he decided to give up the armed struggle to be united with his wife and four children.
“They were not aware that I am an NPA. But I have to abandon my comrade because I want to be with my family and lead a normal life without being hunted and running in the mountains,” he said.
He expects to be provided with all the assistance promised to them by the military and other government agencies.