The Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade in Negros Occidental is maintaining its full alert status against possible attacks by the New People’s Army, during the suspension of military operations that ends January 15, its commander, Col. Jon Aying, yesterday said.
The unilateral New Year ceasefire declared by the Communist Party of the Philippines, meanwhile, ended January 2, with the CPP ordering its armed wing, the New People’s Army, to launch more tactical offensives against government security forces throughout the country.
Maj. Rey Tiongson, 3rd Infantry Division spokesman, said yesterday that Army units in Negros and Panay island will continue to observe the SOMO until January 15, but they will not lower their guard, and will conduct continued security patrols, peace and development activities, and support to humanitarian programs.
In a statement it issued, the CPPC said, “Upon the direction of the CPP, the NPA will be launching more frequent tactical offensives to cripple the weak units of the enemy and acquire more firearms.”
“This year, every command of the NPA should exert more efforts to surpass the number of firearms they seized from the reactionary military, paramilitary and police forces before,” it added.
Aying said they aim to further reduce the 40 rebel-influenced barangays in Negros Occidental this year, with residents “gripped by fear from the threats of rebels”.
Military estimates show there are about 200 NPA rebels left in Negros Occidental.
But Aying said, “I believe that the number will go down this year as many of the members of the NPA are already surrendering because of the hard life they experience in the mountains."
The CPP, however, claimed that 2013 clearly showed the failure of the military’s internal peace and security plan, “Bayanihan,” to reduce the strength of the CPP-NPA to an insignificant level.
The IPSP “Bayanihan” is the brainchild of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, who used to be the 3rd Infantry Division commander. It is designed to reduce the insurgency problem to insignificant levels by 2016 through a whole-of-nation approach.*GPB