NPA guerilla fronts down to 43 — Dela Rosa
By Cathrine Gonzales / Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — The New People’s Army (NPA) now only has 43 guerilla fronts across the country, Senator Ronald Dela Rosa said Tuesday as he expressed confidence that ending the insurgency can be achieved within the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.
According to Dela Rosa, 11 of the 43 remaining NPA guerilla fronts are already weakened.
“At the start of the Duterte administration, there were 70 guerilla fronts but now we have only remaining 43 but weakened guerilla fronts, 43 guerilla fronts but 11 of them are weakened,” Dela Rosa, vice-chairperson of the committee on national defense and security, said as he defended the proposed budget of the Department of National Defense during a Senate session.
“Not only the military [capability] but also the political structure was really degraded,” Dela Rosa said.
According to Dela Rosa, the NPA doctrine mandates that a guerilla front should have at least three platoons or 100 armed combatants. He said the weakened guerilla fronts only had around 10 to 20 armed combatants.
Dela Rosa answered in the affirmative when Senator Panfilo Lacson, who was interpellating, asked him if he thinks ending insurgency is achievable before the end of Duterte’s term.
“Yes, Mr. President. Ang problema na lang talaga natin ngayon kung tutuusin ay confined na lang tayo dito sa may Samar area kung saan ‘yung kanilang malalaking commanders, ‘yung Tiamzon couple, ay nandiyan pa, alive and kicking,” said Dela Rosa, a former chief of the Philippine National Police.
(Yes, Mr. President. The problem we have now is confined in Samar where their main commanders, the Tiamzon couple, are still alive and kicking.)
“When you go down to Mindanao, ‘yung number one na pinakaleader ng Mindanao na si Jorge Madlos, patay na. When you go up sa Region 2 area, Cagayan Valley area, wala na kahit isang opisyales,” he added.
(When you go to Mindanao, their number one leader Jorge Madlos is already dead. When you go up to Cagayan Valley, they don’t have any leaders anymore.)
According to Dela Rosa, only an average of three to five guerilla fronts were dismantled annually in the previous years, but so far this year, 20 guerilla fronts were already dismantled.
“Napakalaki po ng accomplishment for this year when it comes to dismantling of guerilla fronts. Ang ating analysis dito is unti-unting bumagsak ang guerilla fronts na ito ahead of the implementation of the Barangay Development Program,” he added, referring to the program of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict which aims to develop former conflict-ridden communities.
(It’s a huge accomplishment for this year when it comes to dismantling guerilla fronts. Our analysis here is that these guerilla fronts slowly weakened ahead of the implementation of the Barangay Development Program.)