NAGA CITY: The Army in Bicol recently said the rebel New People’s Army in the region lost 63 rebels from January to September this year, a pronouncement met with skepticism by the communist group.
Major General Romeo Calizo, commander of the 9th Infantry Division based in Pili, Camarines Sur, said in a statement sent to Bicol Mail that of the 63 NPA rebels 24 were slain, 18 were captured and 21 had surrendered.
NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which has waged a protracted war against the government since 1968.
Calizo said the losses were due to the anti-insurgency campaign by the government in the region, which according to him had been gaining momentum.
From 546 rebels in 2008, the number of NPA members in Bicol dropped to 406 by 2010 but rose to 437 by mid 2011 before it dropped again to 427 by the end of 2011, he said.
“For the past nine months, seven ranking NPA leaders were either slain or captured as a result of Army and PNP operations,” Calizo added.
Sought for comment, the NPA through Greg Bañares, the spokesperson in Bicol of the National Democratic Front, the political wing of the CPP, said the data on NPA losses were fabricated only by Calizo to create “an illusion of winning the war”.
“Assessing the success of the anti-insurgency programs through the number of killed and captured comrades goes to show that the government still relies on ‘harsh and brutal military operations’ to seek peace,” said Bañares in a statement sent to Bicol Mail.
Bañares added that most of those claimed by the Army as NPA leaders or members were “actually victims of extra-judicial killing”.– Bicol Mail