CALAPAN CITY, Oriental Mindoro – The head of the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said Mindoro is now the center of the government’s war against the communist New People’s Army following the discovery of the rebels’ plan to make the island as its regional base.
SOLCOM commander Lt. Gen. Antonio G. Parlade, Jr., who is also the spokesman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) said they are now intensifying their operations against the NPAs who tried to establish their Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee (STRPC) headquarters in iMindoro’s heavily-forested hinterlands which are usually inhabited by indigenous Mangyan communities.
“We were able to create a very effective convergence of all government agencies to far-flung areas of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro which are seldom reached by the government before. We now have the capability to bring the government to the middle of the guerilla zone and provide services to our people there, particularly the poor Mangyans,” said Parlade during a press conference here.
Parlade arrived on board a Blackhawk helicopter at the AFP’s 203rd Infantry Brigade in Bansud and San Jose, Occidental Mindoro for troop visitation.
He revealed that in 2016, the NPA tried to establish in Mindoro its STRPC headquarters but government troops launched successive military campaigns in southern Mindoro to thwart this.
The sustained military operations were complemented with help from frontline government offices in addressing social problems of the local populace including an estimated 1,500 Mangyans living in the area.
“I must admit that the government has neglected these people before but now they are no longer isolated. Our approach is not a token one, not one-time-big-time. We always visit them and come back again,” Parlade said.
Parlade said the AFP’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) has yielded hundreds of NPA surrenderees as far as Masbate, Laguna, Rizal, and Quezon.
In Mindoro, a total of 234 former rebels surrendered to authorities in 2019 and this year, most members of their regional main guerilla units laid down their firearms and put an end to their fight against the government in Quezon, Parlade said.