CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City – Amid intense operations against the terrorist Maute-ISIS Group in Marawi, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was able to neutralize 50 members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and recovered 16 firearms in separate operations outside the battle-stricken city.
“While the AFP is busy combating the Maute-ISIS group in Marawi, significant developments are happening in our fight against the NPA, particularly after the Government did not participate in the fifth round of peace negotiations with the communist terrorists,” Colonel Edgard Arevalo, AFP Public Affairs Office Chief said Thursday, June 15.
Never waning in its operations against the communist terrorists, military forces were able to conduct successful operations against the NPA, mostly in North-eastern Mindanao.
Of the 50 neutralized communist terrorists, 36 voluntarily surrendered to government forces, nine (9) were killed, and five (5) were arrested in separate encounters starting May 23–day one of the attack on Marawi.
Over the course of operations, government troops also recovered 16 high-powered and low-powered firearms. On the other hand, 15 firearms were turned over by surrendering NPA members.
The most recent encounter took place in Paquibato District, Davao City on June 11 where elements of the 16th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army were able to neutralize one NPA fighter and recover a rifle.
The AFP saw a surge of surrenders from the NPA starting May 23. Significant of which were five (5) NPAs who voluntarily surrendered in Talaingod, Davao del Norte on June 13, and six (6) members with high-powered firearms who surrendered in Maguindanao on June 6.
During the period however, the NPA intensified its offensives against government troops following the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao.
“It seemed like the NPAs wanted to affiliate with the Maute-ISIS group as shown by their order of offensives against the AFP on account of the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, which was implemented to protect our people from the ISIS-linked terrorists,” Colonel Arevalo said.
On June 13, elements of the Army’s 66th Infantry Battalion while on their way to conduct checkpoint operations in Compostela Valley were subjected to an IED attack by members of the NPAs. The AFP also recorded separate harassment incidents by the NPAs in Ligao City, Albay and Davao City on June 12.
“However, when the NPA’s order of intensified offensive against the AFP was assailed, they changed tactic and offered to help the military fight the Maute-ISIS group,” asserts Colonel Arevalo.
To date, the AFP has now neutralized 324 NPAs since the termination of peace negotiations and lifting of ceasefire on February 4, 2017. It also recovered a total of 77 high-powered and low-powered firearms while 76 were surrendered firearms.