DAVAO CITY - The number of New People's Army (NPA) rebels neutralized in Eastern Mindanao has skyrocketed to nearly 2,000 from January 1 to November 24 this year, the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) reported Thursday.
In a statement, Lt. Gen. Greg Almerol, Eastmincom commander, said of the figure, 66 were killed during legitimate operations by government troops, 127 were captured, and 586 surrendered.
Almerol described the series of NPA surrenders as a manifestation of the growing distrust of its members in their organization and remaining leaders.
"With no letup in our intensified combat operations, coupled with the strong support from the local government units and the populace, we are optimistic that we can dismantle the remaining guerilla fronts in Eastern Mindanao and finally make way for unhampered peace and development," he said.
Almerol added that about 1,200 NPA allies have withdrawn their support from the group as a result of Eastmincom's focused military operations.
"The growing number of neutralized NPA members is a clear sign of the effective strategies employed by Eastmincom units in their respective areas," he said.
The field units also seized more than 600 high- and low-powered firearms during combat operations and through the surrender of former rebels, along with 87 anti-personnel mines, and discovered 180 NPA lairs within the period, Almerol said.
He urged the remaining NPA combatants and their leaders to choose the greater path of peace by abandoning the armed struggle and accepting the government's sincere offer to help them start a new life with their families, especially during this Christmas season.
"Eastmincom's resolve is stronger than ever as it continues to use every opportunity it could find in the pursuit of sustainable peace and development in Eastern Mindanao," Almerol said. (PNA)