MANILA – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Saturday reiterated the importance of a whole-of-nation approach to finally end communist insurgency in the country, noting that there are now only 5 active New People's Army guerilla fronts nationwide.
Defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said this figure is significantly lower from the 89 guerilla fronts the NPA had.
Mindanao remains a hotspot for insurgents, he said.
“Strategically defeated sila. Ang layunin nila dito ay ma-supplant ang ating gobyerno, sila na ang mag-control. Hindi na nila magagawa yan… itong terrorist task nila, yun lang magagawa nila ngayon,” Andolong said in a media forum.
When asked if he could give a timeline on when armed rebels would dissolve, the official said, “mas malapit na tayo ngayon.”
“We don’t know how long it would take but we are continuing at nakikita natin na maraming parte sa bansa natin ang tahimik na. Iilang lugar na lang ngayon,” he added.
He said government learned much in the past 50 years since the armed struggle was launched.
Andolong doubted that the dwindling number of NPA rebels could be attributed to the death of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Joma Sison, as it was unclear if he had direct control of their operations before he died.
“His death really hurt them a lot because of that symbolism na nawala na ‘yung founding father of course, in any organization when you lose your founding father, it will affect you really in terms of morale,” he told ABS-CBN News.
“But in terms of their operations, I would not say that it did but the malaki yung psychological effect.”
President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. had urged the military to be "peacemakers," as the government shifted its strategy to combat communist rebels.
Marcos said the military's "additional mission" may be among the reasons why the government has "slowly succeeded" in their whole-of-society approach when dealing with the armed movement.
At its peak during his father Ferdinand Marcos Sr.'s regime in the 1980s, the CPP boasted about 26,000 fighters.
The military says the number has now dwindled to a few thousand.
FROM THE ARCHIVES