NPA struggles to regain Leyte strongholds after series of defeats

The New People’s Army (NPA) is having a hard time to recover their former strongholds in Leyte after two guerrilla fronts in the province were dismantled early this year.

CLEARED OF REBELS. Military trucks cross a river en route to a convergence activity in a remote village in Abuyog, Leyte in this July 3, 2020 photo. Government troops said on Monday (Aug. 3, 2020) the New People’s Army is having a hard time to recover their former strongholds in Leyte after the dismantling of two guerrilla fronts in the province early this year. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army’s 14th Infantry Battalion )

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Brig. Gen. Zosimo Oliveros, commander of the Philippine Army’s 802nd Infantry Brigade confirmed on August 3, 2020, there are attempts by the communist terrorist group to recruit but repeatedly failed to find new members in Leyte.

“People in far-flung villages are quick to inform us about attempts to recruit them. It will be hard for remnants of NPA to convince villagers to join the armed struggle,” Oliveros told reporters in an interview.

In January, the Philippine Army cleared two guerrilla fronts in the third congressional district, some parts of central Leyte and the southern part of Leyte Island.

“We also deployed retooled community support program teams in some areas to sustain peace and development efforts in coordination with local government units and national government agencies,” Oliveros said.

The Army official believes that the NPA organization is not completely eradicated, but exist in small groups without the capacity to attack government forces.

The NPA organization in Leyte has significantly weakened following the surrender of over 1,000 fighters and key supporters in the towns of Calubian and San Isidro last year.

The formation of task forces on ending local communist armed conflict (ELCAC) at municipal and village levels since last year also contributed to the weakening of the NPA in Leyte, according to the military.

The Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and European Union. The communist rebels have been battling government forces for 50 years.

The communist rebellion in the Philippines is one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies. (Sarwell Meniano, PNA)

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