The military on Saturday said that the half-century existence of the Communist Party of the Philippines was laden with crimes perpetrated by its armed wing even as leaders of the communist group boast expanding reach in Northern Mindanao.
Both contending forces traded accusations and counter-claims on the eve of the 47th anniversary of the CPP Saturday with the communist front citing strategic achievement that the military claimed was full of deceit to advance their cause.
Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos, spokesman of the National Democratic Front-Mindanao, claimed that the guerilla fronts established from 40 during the first year of President Benigno Aquino’s regime, have risen to 46 in five regions in Mindanao, citing that “not one was dismantled despite the ferocity of the attacks” under the government’s counter-insurgency program “Oplan Bayanihan.”
In a statement, Madlos said that NPA rebels in Mindanao have expanded in the southern island despite facing 60 percent of the military strength.
Madlos said that “from the more than 200 towns and cities where [the rebels] operate, from only 1,850 villages in 2010,” they have expanded to 2,500 villages, with a number of “organs of political power” established up to the “municipal level.”
He cited the rebels mass base growth from 120,000 in 2010 to the current 200,000 that the military disputed countering that the strength of the NPA has dramatically reduced to about 6,000 as a result of the intensified anti-insurgency operations nationwide.
Madlos said that growth occurred despite the military deployment of about 60 battalions or more that 60 percent of the total strength of the AFP, not including the police and various militias organized by the military, such as the BULIF, Alamara, Gantangan, Bagani, Magahat and the Calipet group.
Fighting in Northern Mindanao, particularly in tribal areas in Caraga, Surigao del Sur and Surigao del Norte and Bukidnon has increased following the reported atrocities committed by the NPA and the military’s retaliatory attacks to restore peace and order in the region.
So far, several dozens of lumad leaders have been killed by NPA but the CPP said it was the military that was responsible for the killings.
Capt. Jose Patrick Martinez, spokesman of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said the CPP/NPA/NDF to project their existence, sowed threat which I was paramount for them to pursue their armed struggle, in a civilized society they already lost their “ideology” because they shifted to banditry.
The NPA’s glaring banditry, Martinez said, was the recent exploitation of two minors and students of the Tribal Indigenous Filipino People School in Surigao del Sur and the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development Inc., who were saved with the help of local authorities and officials.
“Their parents have pursued and filed cases against Madlos including Genasque Enriquez,” Martinez said.
“Based on the accounts of the two minors, they have been radicalized by their teachers in TRIPFPSS and ALCADEV and forced to hold firearms and kill people,” he added.
Martinez said that NPA top leaders such as Jorge Madlos a.k.a Oris, Myrna Sularte a.k.a Malaya, and their cohorts are all facing multiple charges of murder, frustrated murder, kidnapping, exploitation, illegal possession of explosives and firearms and other forms of criminalities.
With the NPA shifted to banditry, the military recorded a down trend on NPA Initiated Violent Incidents from 168 NIVIs in 2011 down to 153 NIVIs in 2012 and dwindled further to only 119 NIVIs towards the ends of 2015.
“This can be attributed to the NPA being captured/apprehended with the help of the civilians (most of them are NPA victims) and have surrendered because of realization of futility of armed struggle. Record shows that a total of 269 NPA have surrendered and apprehended in 2015 alone,” he cited.
MGen Oscar T. Lactao, Commander of 4th Infantry Division, said, “The de-romanticized existence of the NPA is irreversible. Even if they will fight another decade or century, they will not win the war because people no longer believe in their failed ideology.”