Intensify drive vs. NPA in Negros without letup, AFP chief orders

AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Andres Centino (3rd from left) awards medals on Thursday to the Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion troopers .* Mary Judaline Partlow photo

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff, Gen. Andres Centino, instructed Army commanders in Negros Island on Thursday, May 25, to intensify operations against the communist New People’s Army (NPA) “without letup.”

This came as Centino lauded the Philippine Army in Negros Island for the series of encounters this past weekend “that dealt a big blow” to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Centino, during his visit to the headquarters of the Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion (IB) in Isabela town, Negros Occidental, awarded medals to 62IB troopers who figured in the twin in central Negros.

On May 20, five NPA rebels were killed in a clash in Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental, and four others died in pursuit operations the following day in Barangay Trinidad, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

On May 21, another NPA combatant was also killed in a clash against the Army’s 15IB in Cauayan, Negros Occidental.

In his message, Centino told battalion commanders on the island to conduct “relentless combat operations” against the remaining NPA rebels in Negros.

“I am reminding our soldiers that we should have that sense of urgency now that the enemy has weakened. They are now lacking in resources, losing their mass base, and they no longer have their leaders,” he said.

Following a closed-door meeting with the Army commanders, Centino told reporters that he directed the troops to “end the insurgency in Negros at the soonest possible time.”

“We don’t have to count the numbers, but what is important is that we have addressed the problem here in Negros, as we still have remaining insurgents that continue to fight the government,” Centino said.

The AFP chief was presented with a cache of various firearms, ammunition, improvised explosive devices, and subversive documents that were recovered during the encounters.

He said President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has “given instructions to slowly transition to a more pressing security concern, which is addressing the security problem of external defense”.

Centino said this can only be achieved if the internal security problem in the country has been addressed.

The insurgency problem in the country is already weakening, with only two active NPA fronts still intact and maintaining mass base support, he said.

These active fronts are in Samar province, he said.*PNA

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