AFP issues conflicting figures about NPA strength
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - January 10, 2016 - 2:52am

MANILA, Philippines - The military appeared to have released conflicting data about the strength of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed component of the remaining communist insurgency in Asia.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claimed over the weekend that the numbers of the NPA are dwindling but the figures it presented are not consistent with the ones it released last year.

AFP chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri reported last Friday that the number of NPA members stood at 3,926 as of the end of 2015 from 4,443 in 2014. He said a total of 31 insurgents have been captured or killed last year. The military also claimed to have dismantled 13 guerilla fronts and cleared 292 barangays from communist rebels. 

The figures released last Friday, however, were different from those cited in an AFP press release given to the media last July. The press release dated July 3, 2015 said there were 3,200 NPA members as of the end of 2014. 

“Based on the 2014 Yearend report, there were 3,200 armed members (NPA). In the first quarter of 2015, the AFP has recorded the neutralization of 340 armed members,” the press release read.

“Neutralized” is a military term that refers to rebels who were killed, arrested or captured by security forces.

On one hand, if the AFP press release issued last year is accurate, then the NPA actually gained strength as its membership rose to 3,926 last year from 3,200 in 2014.

On the other hand, if Iriberri accurately reported that the NPA’s strength was at 4,443 in 2014, then the 2015 press release was wrong in saying that the number of rebels two years ago was just 3,200.

The STAR tried to seek clarification on the conflicting figures from AFP spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla on Saturday. Padilla said he would refer the query to military officials handling the statistics.

Security officials have claimed that all reports and figures they release to the public are carefully validated and are based on intelligence reports. 

ACIRC AFP ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES HERNANDO IRIBERRI IRIBERRI LAST NEW PEOPLE NPA PADILLA RELEASE RESTITUTO PADILLA
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