Monday, January 23, 2012

NPA strength declining, says military

The military said the armed strength of the  communist rebels went down slightly in the first year of implementation of the new counter insurgency plan dubbed “Bayanihan.”
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) estimated that the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, had 4,043 armed members by the end of 2011, or 8 percent fewer than the military’s estimate of 4,384 armed insurgents at the end of 2010.
The AFP also reported that last year, communist rebels killed 100 security forces, destroyed P1.2–billion worth of business properties and government infrastructure, and got some P300 million through extortion.
The rebels staged more criminal acts to back up their extortion activities than major attacks on government troops, the AFP said in a report.
The NPA’s most significant attack last year was the simultaneous assault on three mining companies in Claver, Surigao del Norte, in October.
The military said the companies were attacked because they refused the NPA’s extortion demands.
“This reflects the insurgents’ significant shift from projecting itself as a guerrilla organization to a criminal group with extortion as its main fund-generating activity,” the AFP said.
It said the rebels had resorted to extortion due to their declining mass support.
“This has led them to resort to force and intimidation to coerce ‘soft targets,’ including private firms and individuals—even poor folks in far-flung villages—to give in to their
demands,” the AFP said.
The AFP noted a decline in NPA raids and ambushes on government troops since 2008.
Last year, the military recorded 447 “NPA-initiated violent incidents” which was 11 percent less than the 501 recorded attacks in 2010.
A third or 142 of the attacks were considered criminal activities such as murder, kidnapping, bombing and arson to back up their extortion activities, the military said.
The military said only 15 percent or 69 incidents were considered major tactical offensives like an ambush or a raid.
The AFP said the rebels avoided direct confrontation with government troops and preyed only on militiamen and unarmed military personnel.
While 100 security forces were killed in rebel attacks last year, this was lower than the 184 casualties in the previous year.
Of those killed, AFP members accounted for 56, which was 38 percent less than the 91 casualties from the military in 2010.
In 21 attacks, the rebels used improvised explosive devices which killed 23 civilians and five soldiers.
“This only proves that they are not only targeting AFP personnel but also innocent civilians and peace-loving citizens,” the AFP said.
4:55 am | Monday, January 23rd, 2012

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