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Military Operations Against NPA to Persist Amidst Peace Talk Efforts

Visayas, Philippines – In the Visayas region of the Philippines, military operations against the New People's Army (NPA) are set to continue, despite the Marcos administration's readiness to reopen peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF), as confirmed by an Army official on Monday. Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the Visayas Command (Viscom), stated that while the national government is engaged in preliminary discussions for resuming peace negotiations, military ground operations against the NPA will persist.

According to Philippines News Agency, the military is determined to terminate the local communist armed conflict. He emphasized the continuation of focused military operations and localized peace initiatives with NPA members willing to reintegrate into society. Arevalo urged the remaining communists in the region not to depend solely on the ongoing discussions between the government and NDF representatives, as there is no definitive agreement on resuming talks.

The statement from Arevalo coincided with Viscom's report of its accomplishments against communist rebels in the Visayas for November. This includes a four-day Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) workshop and a briefing on the previous month's achievements. The military reported 15 government-initiated armed encounters, resulting in the neutralization of 77 rebels and the confiscation of 38 firearms, including seven anti-personnel mines.

The Army's 3rd Infantry Division attributed the successful anti-insurgency campaign in Western and Central Visayas to the collaboration of government resources under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). Since the creation of the task force five years ago, through Executive Order 70, 272 formerly insurgency-affected barangays from the two regions have benefited from support to barangay development program projects worth over PHP3 billion.

These projects encompass a wide range of initiatives including infrastructure, health, education, and agricultural support. The combined military efforts have led to the neutralization of 612 leaders and members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA), along with the surrender of 1,217 Militia ng Bayan/Yunit Militia members. In total, the 3rd Infantry Division reported 284 armed engagements, seizing or recovering 781 firearms and facilitating the reintegration of 982 former rebels through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.