Philippine Armed Forces target: 5 communist reb fronts
Manila-- Reports from Northern Command Camp Aquino, said, five communist guerrilla fronts in four regions where the New People’s Army has first taken root since its founding in 1969 are targeted for dismantling this year, the Army’s Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) chief said on Thursday.
That was the “minimum” goal in the Ilocos, Cordillera, Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon regions, Lt. Gen. Bonifacio Ramos told the Inquirer after a media forum held before the traditional commander’s call here.
He did not specify the provinces where those fronts are located. These are among the 20 fronts that the NPA maintains in the four regions, he said.
At least nine fronts are based in Central Luzon where the communist army was established.
Ramos said the goal was attainable because Nolcom was concentrating one brigade or two battalions of between 1,200 and 1,500 soldiers for every front.
“There is no fighting ratio because there is one rebel for every 10 soldiers,” he said, referring to Nolcom’s strength of 10,000 and the NPA’s 1,000 fighters.
He did not say if, in that plan, he would withdraw troops sent last May in major urban and rural towns to cripple the logistics, financial and mass support bases of the rebels.
While the number of rebels has diminished over the years due to encounters and “internal weaknesses,” Ramos said the NPA continued to be “capable of terrorist activities and violence.”
Ramos denied reports of disenchantment in the ranks of Nolcom troops following reports of massive corruption in the military.
Such allegations, he said, have been frequently played up in the media “by some disgruntled elements in the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines).”
He said AFP chief of staff, Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr., continued to provide a “leadership of example for soldiers to have moral courage to win against the insurgency.”
Meanwhile, Central Luzon police director Chief Supt. Ismael Rafanan said the regional police contributed significantly to the anti-insurgency drive through the arrest last year of three top leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its rival, the Marxist-Leninist Party of the Philippines in Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Bataan