MANILA - The chief of the Philippine military on Sunday expressed confidence that communist insurgency in the country will be wiped out by 2022 as the organization said 169 communist rebels have been killed so far this year while 4,777 have surrendered.
"As we (Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police) further improve our lines of cooperation, and with the cooperation of different stakeholders in peace and security, we are confident that we can meet our target of ending the communist scourge by 2022," Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, AFP Chief of Staff, said in a statement.
According to the Armed Forces' public affairs office, a total of 5,164 NPA members and supporters have been neutralized so far this year.
Among those killed were alleged New People's Army (NPA) leader Mario Caraig and a certain Mitchel Fat, allegedly the mastermind in the killing of 4 policemen in Ayungon, Negros Oriental in July 2019, the military statement said.
Military and police took down Caraig in Kalayaan, Laguna on Aug. 7, while Fat was killed after resisting state forces serving arrest warrants also in August, in Ilog, Negros Occidental, it said.
Authorities also dismantled 8 guerilla fronts this year, of which 3 were from Luzon, 2 were from Visayas, and 3 were from Mindanao, the PIO said.
"Our recent successes in combatting the communist scourge would not have been possible without our strong partnership with our counterparts in the Philippine National Police," Gapay said.
The military and police concluded Thursday the National Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Center meeting.
Meantime, some 3,742 former communist rebels have graduated from training programs of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, while 2,105 received aid from the labor department's livelihood program.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon earlier questioned the P16-billion budget next year for an anti-insurgency task force as it is higher than allocations for the labor and the tourism agencies, which were crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Past administrations have set their own deadlines but failed to curb the communist insurgency, which has plagued the country since the late 1960s.