MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Army is aiming to clear Quezon province of New People’s Army (NPA) rebel soldiers by the end of the year, a military commander said Thursday.
According to Col. Eduardo Año, commander of the Army's 201st Brigade, they are targeting to clear the province of insurgency and turn over security to the local government and police.
Authorities said the number of insurgents in Quezon, a known bailiwick area of the communist group, has dropped from 58 in January 2011 to only 34.
"My goal is zero NPA by the end of 2012," said Año.
Año compared the operation in Quezon to the Army’s 2009 operation in Marinduque.
"We projected a zero NPA in Marinduque and we achieved that in 2009. Until now, there is no NPA in Marinduque. That is what we want to achieve in Quezon," said Año.
The military official said the NPA in the province is led by a certain Domingo Almusaria alias “Ka David.”
He also said the military, in coordination with several stakeholders, are trying to contact the families of the 34 remaining NPAs in the province to convince their relatives to surrender.
Año noted that the death of Gregorio Rosal, popularly known as "Ka Roger," led to the imminent fall of the NPA rebels in Quezon.
"The death of Ka Roger had a big effect (in the imminent fall of NPA in Quezon). The masses know him. The masses can relate with him since he did not have a high degree of educational attainment," he said.
"A lot of people lost sympathy with the NPA following the death of Ka Roger," he added.
Ka Roger was a former NPA commander and spokesman of the Communist Party of the Philippines.