Viscom chief says CPP-NPA rebels gradually becoming irrelevant in Visayas

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The Visayas Command (Viscom) claimed on Saturday that communist rebels in the region are quickly becoming irrelevant due to diminishing public support, continued community involvement by soldiers, and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC)’s Barangay Development Program (BDP).

In a statement, Viscom commander Lt. Gen. Robert Dauz stated the Community Support Program (CSP) has increased government forces’ direct engagement with communities, leading to people detaching from the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)’s flagship program, CSP, is credited with several successful clearings of NPA presence in villages.

“With our sustained community engagements, the people in the region started to break free from the clutches of the communist terrorists while embracing an active role in the government’s peace and development initiatives,” Dauz said.

He added that the development is “manifested in the increasing number of information provided by the community which translates into successful internal security and law enforcement operations by your government forces”.

Following a 10-minute confrontation with communist rebels in Sitio Nolwan, Barangay Siya, Tapaz, troops of the 301st Infantry Brigade successfully seized a communist terrorist stronghold in Capiz on January 25.

A hand grenade, an anti-personnel mine, a cellphone charger, a wristwatch, a pair of boots, a CPP-NPA flag, a rucksack containing various personal possessions, assorted medicines, and several subversive documents were among the items seized by the soldiers.

The action was prompted by information provided by a concerned resident of the community.

“Having witnessed the government’s sincerity to ensure the well-being of the people in the region through the BDP, more and more people, as well as local government units, alienate the communist terrorists and repulse their presence in their respective locality by reporting it to the government forces leading to these successful skirmishes,” Dauz said.

The NTF-ELCAC’s flagship initiative, BDP, is aimed at the long-term rehabilitation and development of 822 barangays that were once CPP-NPA guerilla fronts. Each barangay is given PHP20 million to spend on their projects.

According to Viscom, which controls military units and task groups in the Central, Easter, and Western Visayas regions, 8,174 local government units in the Visayas designated the CPP-NPA persona non grata as of January 1, 2021. It said that there are 7,759 from the barangay level, 364 from municipalities, 39 from the city, and 12 from the provincial level.

Dauz praised the soldiers for their unflinching dedication in securing the people of the Visayas and safeguarding the preservation of the democratic way of life.

“Lay down your arms, abandon your armed struggle, and head to the call of the government for genuine peace. Return to the fold of the law, avail of the government’s local integration program, and live a peaceful and progressive life with your families,” Dauz said in his appeal to the communist rebels.

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