From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 19, 2020): Military operations weaken NPA in Northern Samar (By Sarwell Meniano)
REBEL HIDEOUT. A lair of the New People's Army overran by the Philippine Army in an upland village in Palapag, Northern Samar in this undated photo. The Philippine Army operating in some parts of rebel-infested Northern Samar province said on Friday (June 19, 2020) the New People’s Army continues to weaken following intensified military operations this year. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army 20th Infantry Battalion)
The New People’s Army (NPA) continues to weaken following intensified military operations this year, the Philippine Army operating in some parts of rebel-infested Northern Samar province said on Friday.
Lt. Col. Juan Gullem, commander of the Philippine Army’s 20th Infantry Battalion (IB), said a rebel lair overran by government troops and seizure of firearms in Palapag, Northern Samar will paralyze the activities of the communist terrorist group.
On June 14, an encounter between soldiers and rebels in the upland Bagacay village in Palapag led to the discovery of the NPA lair which accommodated some 50 fighters with 21 makeshift bunkers, four posts, and toilets.
Seized after the clash were two homemade shotguns, empty shells, mobile phone, flash drive, transistor radio, gasoline, four civilian bags, food supply, flashlights with batteries, assorted medicines, school identification cards, and subversive documents.
The discovery of school IDs proves that NPAs have been recruiting students to join in the armed struggle, Gullem said.
“The lair’s discovery will weaken the organization since they’re driven away from their comfort zone. The overwhelming support of the local populace to the government makes the NPA vulnerable. It will take time for them to establish another haven unless they surrender,” Gullem said in a phone interview.
On April 23, a major engagement was recorded in Catubig, Northern Samar wherein soldiers attacked an NPA lair, resulting in the seizure of high-powered firearms, ammunition, explosives, bandoliers, assorted medical paraphernalia and medicines, food supply, personal belongings, backpacks, and subversive documents.
The follow-through encounter after four days has killed an NPA rebel and led to the recovery of a submachine gun.
“In these two encounters, the NPA ran away leaving behind their war materials and dead comrade. The unconfirmed report also disclosed that wounded NPAs who died while evading the government troops were buried along their route of withdrawal,” Gullem added.
Some 87 fighters have surrendered to the two army battalions based in Northern Samar province this year.
Since 2019, the 20th IB has captured eight rebels.
Northern Samar is considered to be the NPA’s stronghold in Eastern Visayas due to poor road network, thick forest, high poverty incidence, and low level of education in upland communities.
The NPA, which has been waging a five-decade armed struggle against the government, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.