The military yesterday called the New People’s Army operating in southeast Negros a “spent force”.
Col. Francisco Patrimonio, 302nd Infantry Brigade commander, said the inability of the NPA to engage government forces in a gunbattle for a longertime, due to lack of ammunition, and its alienation from the people, manifest that it is already a spent force.
Soldiers of the 32nd Division Reconnaissance Company and 79th Infantry Battalion had figured in two encounters with the same group of rebels within a period of three weeks in the hinterlands of Siaton and Santa Catalina, Negros Oriental, military records showed.
Army troopers recovered a bandolier with four magazines containing five live ammunition, a fragmentation grenade and a back pack containing subversive documents in Sitio Avocado,Santa Catalina.
Patrimonio said the NPA armed struggle to seize political power is already a futile idealism, adding that” the bearing of arms is just to make their presence felt as a force, project an image of strengthand continue their extortion activities”.
He also said the strong partnership between the military and the Negrenses helped them a lot in putting up a strong military and social pressure to the NPA, which prompted some of their members to abandon the armed struggle.
Military records show that the number of armed NPAguerillas in Negros Oriental has been reduced from 66 in 2010 to 35 of last year.
Since he assumed command of the 302nd Infantry Brigade four months ago, Patrimonio said 20 rebels have surrendered to them, while others have gone into inactive status.
This is because of demoralization among their ranks, brought about by mounting pressure against them, in term of military operations and immersion activities of the Army’s Peace and Development Teams in the countrysides, he added.
Priest-turned-rebel Frank Fernandez, spokesman of the National Democratic Front-Negros, said in a statement he issued, that the military officials in Negros are “dreaming of victories”, by claiming that they are winning the battle against the NPA.* GPB