266 NPAs surrender to AFP in 2022, more gains bared

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The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) continues to degrade the Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) as 266 members surrendered to government forces from January to March 2022.

Most of the surrenders came from NPA units in Eastern Mindanao, with 114. Meanwhile, 58 fighters were from NPA units in Western Mindanao; 37 in Southern Luzon; 36 in the Visayas; 20 in Northern Luzon; and one from Palawan.

The most recent was the surrender of Maximo Catarata, Secretary of Guerilla Front 3 (GF3), in Davao del Norte on March 31, leading to the dismantling of the said NPA unit.

The military also recorded 37 CNTs killed in military operations, while 29 were apprehended or captured in operations conducted across the country.

Among the most wanted NPAs who died in an encounter with the AFP is Menardo Villanueva. He was killed in a firefight between the troops under the 1001st Infantry Brigade and some members of the communist rebels in Barangay Libudon, Mabini, on January 12 this year.

Villanueva is the commander of the NPA’s national operations command (NOC) and a long-time secretary of the National Democratic Front’s Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC). He also served as head of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Mindanao Commission (KOMID) and as Political Bureau Chief of the CPP’s central committee.

Government troops also reduced the CNT’s firepower with the seizure and surrender of its 492 high-powered and low-powered firearms in the first quarter of 2022. The military also seized 148 anti-personnel mines that the International Humanitarian Law bans.

With information coming from concerned citizens and former CNTs, the AFP’s focused military operations also resulted in the discovery of 66 CNT encampments, mostly in Eastern Mindanao and Visayas.

The AFP attributes the significant gains against the CNTs to the increasing support of communities and local government units through the National Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

In his message last Tuesday at a ceremony in Camp Aguinaldo, AFP Chief of Staff General Andres Centino said cooperation among stakeholders and organizations is vital to achieving lasting peace.

“As the nation’s primary protector against terrorists and other state adversaries, the AFP’s security operations, programs, and activities are rooted in our collective desire for peace and security. Through working and cooperating with organizations and stakeholders, I know that we can get closer to achieving these mutual aspirations for our people,” said General Centino.

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