Armed members of the New People’s Arm in training … their number is declining in Bicol region, claims the military. - Websitepic
By JUAN ESCANDOR Jr
NAGA CITY: The Philippine Army conducting counterinsurgency operation in the six provinces of Bicol scored high in the so-called Internal Peace and Security Plan “Bayanihan” at the end of 2012.
Maj Gen Romeo V Calizo, commander of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division, in the 2012 year-end report to Lt. Gen. Emmanuel T Bautista, Commander of the Philippine Army, declared a continued decline in the number of communist rebels and their capabilities all over the Bicol region.
From January to December last year, there were 46 government-initiated encounters as against 27 encounters initiated by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, armed fighters of communist rebel movement; that left 23 NPA rebels and 12 government forces dead.
The Army’s count of the NPA strength was 546 in 2008, which declined to 406 in 2010 and increased to 437 by mid-year of 2011, but was reduced to 427 at the end of 2011, and by the end of 2012 the NPA strength further declined by 16%with 359 NPA rebels scattered in the four mainland provinces and two island provinces in Bicol region.
Calizo reported the confiscation of firearms from the NPA rebels which include 36 high-powered firearms, 31 low-powered firearms, and 33 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) employed as anti-personnel and anti-tank landmines while the Army lost seven high-powered firearms to the NPA rebels.
He cited intelligence information regarding validation of the identities of NPA rebels whether they were killed in action, captured, apprehended or surrendered, including reference to captured documents and revelations from former communist rebels.
“As a result of these validations, there were also a number of new recruits in the rebel organization,” Calizo revealed.
But he said the implementation of stricter campaign against the insurgency in the countryside led to the surrender of 29 NPA rebels last year.
Calizo reported shaking the organization of the communist rebels in Bicol with the capture or death of eight ranking NPA leaders as a result of Army and Philippine National Police operations.
Among the suspected ranking NPA rebels listed slain in encounter were Antonio Perelonia alias Eddie, alleged member of the executive committee of the NPA unit in Albay province; and a certain Rafael Llanto alias Gopi, alleged member of the NPA regional elite force; and another NPA rebel identified as Benjamin Manzera.
The Army in Bicol further reported to have captured top ranked officers of the communist movement including the alleged finance officer of an NPA unit in Albay province identified as Edgardo Sevilla, who was captured in a clash in Iriga City, in Camarines Sur on Sept. 5, 2012.
Two ranking NPA rebels in the province of Sorsogon were apprehended by the 31st Infantry Battalion and the Sorsogon Public Safety Company on Aug 21, 2012.
They were identified as Florence Galos alias Audrey and Alex Gerandio alias Monique. Galos is the alleged logistics and finance officer while Gerandio was supposed to be the squad leader of an NPA rebel unit in Sorsogon.
Top Sorsogon NPA leader Felix Marcaida a.k.a. Megs was arrested by joint elements of 903rd Brigade together with operatives Albay PPO on Apr 5, 2012 in Barangay Tagas, Daraga, Albay.
“(Marcaida’s) arrest created a leadership gap in the NPA organization in Sorsogon resulting to series of encounters and capture of major NPA camps by the 31st IB,” according the report.
Another suspected top NPA leader was apprehended in Laguna early last year.
Identified as Henry Arguenza, the Army tagged him as top NPA leader in the island province of Catanduanes.
Arguenza was arrested together with his companion and another suspected high-ranking NPA leader named Alicia Cenon.
According to the Army report, the arrest of Arguenza and Cenon was initiated by Cabuyao PNP on March 27, 2012 after the driver of the taxi they had rented complained against them of grave threats.
The taxi driver sought the PNP assistance center along the national highway.
They are now detained in Sorsogon Provincial Police Station facing murder raps against them. – Bicol Mail