Army disputes WikiLeaks on NPA insurgency; describes report as inaccurate
by Ben Cal
MANILA — The Philippine Army has disputed and described as inaccurate a dispatch reportedly based on a 2006 assessment by then United States Ambassador Christie Kenney that the Philippine government could not defeat the communist insurgency.
“The information gathered by is inaccurate,” Col. Tony Parlade, Army spokesman, said in a text message to the News Agency.
“The Army is confident we will be able to lick this insurgency sooner, especially with Bayanihan,” Parlade said, referring to the latest counter-insurgency program being implemented in full gear by the Armed Forces of the (AFP).
Parlade cited the recent clearing of NPA strongholds in Bohol, Cebu and other provinces in the country.
To back up his claim, Parlade said that “many governors, local government units as well, are giving us positive feedback that at the rate we are doing right now, they are optimistic this insurgency will soon be reduced to insignificance.”
“Soon, development will come in, just like what happened in Bohol, Cebu and elsewhere,” he said, adding that “remnants of the New People’s Army are now merely engaging in banditry.”
Parlade also said that the NPA strength is down to 4,300, far lower than the 25,600 the rebels had in 1986.
“How do we explain the exodus of surrenderees if we are not effectively executing our (counter-insurgency) campaign?” Parlade asked.
The number of NPA rebels is expected to dip further at the end of the year.
WikiLeads based its figures from two cables sent by Kenney to the U.S. State Department in 2006 that the communist insurgency was “apt to remain deadly and long.”
The cable also stated that “total victory over the insurgents in the foreseeable future remains unlikely.”
The AFP has formed Peace and Development Teams (PDTs) whose main task is to help fast-track government projects undertaken by various departments, particularly in the hinterlands so that basic services would go down to the grassroots designed to alleviate the people’s welfare and ultimately eradicate if not reduce poverty.
AFP Intelligence records show that in 2002, CPP-NPA’s strength was placed at around 9,260. By the end of the first quarter of 2010, it was down to some 4,600 or 50 percent decline.
But as of August 31, 2011, the number of NPA was down to 4,300, military data show.
The CPP-NPA used to affect 2,395 barangays in 2002, but this figure was reduced by 57 percent, numbering to only 1,017 by the end of January-March 2010 quarter, or 2.4 percent of the 42,025 barangays nationwide.
An upsurge of CPP-NPA surrenders was also recorded from 2005-2009. In that period, a total of 5,417 communist insurgents returned to mainstream society. Of this figure, 21 were high-ranking CPP-NPA leaders, 2,119 regular fighters and 3,277 support elements.
The financial and livelihood assistance of the Social Integration Program (SIP) under the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) has proved advantageous for the rebel beneficiaries as they reintegrate into mainstream society.
From 2005 to June 30, 2010, a total of 1,663 various KBP projects have been completed in 800 barangays while more are slated to be finished. These projects include the construction of school buildings, farm-to-market roads, water systems, health centers, and electrification programs.
In a related development, the NPA has continued using anti-personnel landmine in their insurgency warfare, defying a ban imposed by the United Nations (UN) because of the deadly impact to civilians in conflict-affected areas.
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) is a global network in over 90 countries that works for a world free of antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions. (PNA)