Troops expand outreach to counter NPA influence

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Government troops have stepped up their peace and development efforts in parts of Sarangani and Davao del Sur to counter the remaining influence of a dismantled front of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Col. Ted Dumosmog, deputy commanding officer of the Army’s 1002nd Infantry Brigade, said on Wednesday they have increased their collaboration with local government units and other concerned stakeholders to reach out to areas previously operated by the NPA’s defunct Guerilla Front Tala.

He said they have been conducting community outreach activities and facilitating the provision of various services and projects, including livelihood, to the concerned areas in partnership with the task forces to end local communist armed conflict (ELCAC).

Front Tala, one of the fronts under the NPA’s Far South Mindanao Revolutionary Committee, was dismantled by government troops late last year following a series of operations.

“Front Tala is no longer a threat to the communities but our efforts continue to ensure that this will be sustained,” Dumosmog said in a press conference at the 1002nd Brigade headquarters in Barangay Pulatana, Malungon town in Sarangani.

He said they have been also coordinating with former members of the unit to recover firearms stashed in its previous area of operations.

From Nov. 11 to 16, he said they recovered some 31 high-powered firearms, including an M203 grenade launcher and caliber .30 machine gun, hidden in a hinterland area in Malapatan town, Sarangani.

Since last year, he said dozens of combatants and supporters of Front Tala surrendered to their troops through collaborative efforts of the task force ELCAC of Sarangani and Davao Occidental.

He said many of them were convinced to surrender under the 73rd Infantry Battalion’s “Tala approach,” which involved the contact tracing of the NPA combatants through their families.

This included reaching out to the families of active NPA members and conducting security awareness on the “deception and manipulation of the communist terrorist group,” he said.

The Army official said they educated them on the benefits awaiting the surrenderers, especially in terms of financial and livelihood assistance, through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

“We’re happy that the Tala approach was given importance by their family members and that made many of its former members surrender,” Dumosmog said.

Maj. Gen. Ernesto Torres Jr., commanding officer of the 10th Infantry Division (10ID), appealed to the public and local government leaders to help sustain the fight against the remaining NPA units in the area.

He said it is time to end the decades-old “armed conflict” by way of peace and development programs and the “whole-of-nation approach” as mentioned in Executive Order No. 70 of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“This continues to gain more ground and help our efforts to totally eradicate insurgency through effective projects and programs,” he said.

Torres said this complemented their sustained intensified operations in the area against the already “decimated and weakened” NPA units.

From January to October, he said a total of 605 NPA rebels and supporters, including 27 high-ranking leaders, have either surrendered or were neutralized by units under the 10ID, which covers four regions, 12 provinces, seven cities, 72 municipalities, and 1,681 barangays in Mindanao.

Some 240 assorted firearms were recovered by their units in various operations, which resulted in the dismantling of three NPA fronts.

The Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA) 


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