NPAs in central Mindanao dwindling — local execs

John Unson - Philstar.com
NPAs in central Mindanao dwindling � local execs
The Army's 6th Infantry Division has a continuing reconciliation program for communist insurgents.
Philstar.com / John Unson

COTABATO CITY — The capability of the New People’s Army to perpetrate terror attacks anywhere in central Mindanao dwindled in the past five years owing to cross-section efforts to neutralize its forces in the region, officials said Saturday.

Brig. Gen. Alex Rillera, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the recent clashes between personnel of their units and members of the “communist terrorist group,” which is the NPA’s new moniker, involved only from four to six guerillas, an indication that it has few members now.

“It’s the local communities that made them become weak. We also ought to thank the indigenous people in our area of responsibility for having secured the surrender of so many CTG members in recent months,” Rillera told reporters Saturday, after Thursday’s Army-NPA gunfight in Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat that left a wanted NPA leader dead.

The slain rebel, Rowie Libot, perished in a brief clash with personnel of the 37th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Lemulan in Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat on Thursday morning.

Libot was a senior NPA leader who first operated in Davao de Oro and Davao Oriental provinces and relocated to Sultan Kudarat in 2017 after different courts in both provinces issued warrants for his arrest for heinous offenses.

Libot and his four companions opened fire first on soldiers dispatched to check on reports by villagers about his presence in the area, sparking a gunfight that resulted in his death.

Two other CTG members were cornered and detained by 37th IB personnel after a brief shootout on the same day in Kalamansig's Barangay Hinalaan, now both in the custody of the municipal police station.

“It was local residents, among them traditional community leaders, who led our troops to their exact locations,” Rillera said.

A total of 351 CTG members yielded to different battalions and brigades under 6th ID and units of the Police Regional Office-12 since 2019, many of them reintroduced to mainstream society with the help of local government units.

Brig. Gen. Jimili Macaraeg, director of the Police Regional Office-12, said a number of CTG members had also been arrested in separate operations in the past 24 months by members of their units in law-enforcement operations carried out with the help of LGUs and leaders of different indigenous tribes.

“These are the fruits of our continuing community relations program involving the local communities, the religious sector and local executives in the areas under PRO-12,” Macaraeg said. 

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