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Reds losing foothold in IP villages esp in Northern Mindanao, Caraga

Maj Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. courtesy of Artemio A. Dumlao

The military in Northern Mindanao and Caraga region said the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) are losing support in the far-flung barangays and the Indigenous Peoples (IP) communities in the country, especially in Northern Mindanao and Caraga Region.

Maj. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., commander of Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID), during Monday’s “Tagged: Debunking Lies” virtual press conference of the National Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) said, many of our ‘kababayans’ have had enough of the continuing atrocities and violence perpetrated by the CPP-NPA-NDF to their communities.

“Sa nakikita po namin ay sawang-sawa na din ang ating mga kababayan dito sa mga ginagawang mga krimen ng members ng New People’s Army. Tuloy pa din kasi yung ginagawa nilang extortion, arson, murder, at iba pang mga krimen ng NPAs. Lalong lalo na itong pagrecruit nila ng mga bata, which is against the International Humanitarian Law and the Republic Act 11188 or the Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict,” Brawner said.

He also said that the AFP is winning the war in the hinterland areas of Northern Mindanao and Caraga, through the widening communitu aupport and cooperation.

“Sa ngayon sunod-sunod ang mga nangyayaring encounters dito sa area, pati na din dito sa area ng Caraga, sa Surigao Norte at Surigao Sur. Sunod-sunod po yung mga encounters natin sa mga NPAs. Kasi nga po doon na din sa cooperation sa ating mga kababayan. Sila na din po nagsasabi sa amin kung nasaan yung mga miyembro ng New People’s Army,” Brawner added.

The 4ID Commander also noticed that the numbers of the NPA have already dwindled in the area. He said rebel surrenderees told them that recruitment of new members has now become harder for the CPP-NPA-NDF because of the government’s tough campaign and intervention against the Communist terrorist groups (CTGs) and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Wala na talaga silang narerecruit, dahil na din sa Covid-19 na wala na ding face-to-face sa eskwelahan. Wala na silang marecruit,” Brawner said, adding, “except yung mga kamag-anak nila, kahit na minor po. At yung mga Indigenous People ang mga nirerecruit po nila ngayon.”

Based on reports from the surrenderees, Brawner revealed that “Ang mga matatandang NPA ang nagrerecruit na sa mga kamag-anak nila. Pamipamilya. Wala na din silang suporta doon sa mga taumbayan. Even yung mga mass bases nila, wala na din silang mga suporta. Ang nagsusuporta na lang sa kanila ay yung mga kamag-anak din nila.”

He also said the AFP initiated dialogues with many of the communities to finally put an end on the CTGs recruitment process. “That is why one of the programs we are doing ay kinakausap na din naming ang mga kamag-anak nila, doon sa mga bayan.”

Brawner also revealed that one of the reasons why the NPAs have continued to stay in Northern Mindanao and Caraga Region is because they wanted to preserve their biggest extortion funds in the area.

“So nakaconcentrate po sila dito sa area na ito, dito sa Region 10 at sa Caraga, primarily kasi hindi nila maiwan yung mga mining companies, mga construction companies, at yung mga iba pang sources nila ng extortion,” he said.

Meanwhile, Brawner also reported that three of the four captured rebels, including two minors, during their recent clash with NPAs in Valencia City, have yielded positive results for Delta variant on the real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) or swab tests.

He added that many in the NPA ranks most likely have Covid-19 as evidenced by the positive test results of the captured and dead CTGs.

A wounded NPA rebel who underwent a surgical operation on Sept. 11, also tested positive for the Delta variant. While, the NPA fatalities were immediately buried upon learning that some of them have tested positive on the Covid-19 test.

Brawner appealed to the CPP-NPA-NDF leadership to abandon the armed conflict adding that the country is currently confronting an unseen enemy that is even more serious, deadly, and exempts no one.

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