The Western Command (Wescom) on Monday downplayed the capability of the New People’s Army (NPA) to pose a serious threat to the local peace and order situation despite conducting several ambushes against government troops recently.
Wescom spokesperson Capt. Cherryl Tindog said the recent ambushes conducted by the NPA were mainly harassment activities against troops that were conducting civil military operations.
Tindog noted the ambush launched by the NPA against members of the Joint Task Force Malampaya (JTFM) in Taytay and the ambush against a marine patrol in Roxas.
“Kapag sinabing ambush of course they will position themselves in an advantageous position, meaning deliberate ang pag-atake nila,” Tindog said.
After the ambush of a convoy in Roxas, she said the NPAs avoided engaging the pursuing government troops.
“Nagpaparamdam lang sila. Kunwari nandyan sila pero ang totoo hindi sila ganoon kalakas na humarap sa ating military. They shoot and run, ganoon ang style nila,” she added.
Tindog said they have estimated the NPA strength to around 30 armed men both in the southern and northern part of the province.
During Monday’s Kapihan forum organized by the Philippine Information Agency, Wescom also said the NPAs have been recruiting indigenous peoples and even minors to beef their ranks.
Meanwhile, the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) said they have been assisting 37 rebel returnees, including three minors, under their Local Social Integration Program (LSIP) and Program Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP).
Abigail Ablaña, PSWDO Officer, said that recruitment of the minors is a violation of the international convention on the rights of children.
“It is prohibited under international human rights even in our domestic laws and we can really say na involved din ang child abuse law or RA 7610 because children also considered as zone of peace. As much as possible children should be insulated from this kind of activities,” Rexford Guevarra, Officer-in-charge of Commission on Human Rights–IV, said.