The military strength of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Palawan is down to only nine armed regular fighters, according to Western Command (WESCOM) commander Vice Admiral Ramil Roberto Enriquez.

Enriquez said during a program last week hosted by Laban Kasama mo ang Bayan that the government armed forces have been successful in blocking attempts by the armed left to reinforce their ranks in the province following a series of setbacks.

“Marami na sa kanila ang nagkakasakit. In fact ang kanilang acting leader dito na si Charity Diño ay on medical leave at nagpapagaling sa bandang Batangas. Marami na sa kanila ang nawawalan ng pag-asa dahil sa tuloy-tuloy nating pagsugpo sa kanilang samahan,” Enriquez said.

He added that they are exerting efforts to convince the remaining rebels to peacefully surrender.

“Right now, aside from monitoring and preventing [them from] entering Palawan, our government team is in the forefront of persuading the nine NPA regulars to surrender. We are still giving them an opportunity to peacefully surrender,” he said.

Enriquez noted that from 2017 to 2021, Palawan had confiscated around 106 firearms and facilitated the surrender of some 300 members and sympathizers.

“Before the Duterte administration ay medyo malaki ang problema ng Palawan in terms of insurgency. We also have [a] terrorist group coming from Western Mindanao attempting to disrupt the peace and order situation here,” Enriquez said.

Enriquez disclosed there were two incidents of attempted reinforcement of the rebels in Palawan, including a group whose members claimed to be media practitioners covering the COVID-19 situation.

This occurred, he said, following the death of their top leaders in Brooke’s Point town in September last year during a military operation there.

He identified Bonifacio “Salvador Luminoso” Magramo, daughter of late NPA spokesman Ka Roger Rosal, as the secretary of Unite 4E of the Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee. Andrea “Ka Naya” Rosal and RJ Manalo were among the five rebels slain in the clash with the Philippine Marines’ Force Reconnaissance Group (FRG) and police officials.

“Immediately, we noticed the several attempts to reinforce their kadres here. Ang kagandahan lang doon ay because we are really operating here in a whole of government approach, we [prevented] two major attempts to bring in several group of people na alam namin na hindi talaga sila normal na mamamayan. Nanggaling sila sa iba’t ibang lugar at ang tinutumbok nila na lugar ay nandoon ang remnants [ng mga NPA],” Enriquez said.