Army official: NPA in E. Visayas could not find potential leaders

The New People’s Army (NPA) in Eastern Visayas region is now on the verge of collapse with the deaths of key leaders and the surrender of combatants and staunch supporters. Maj. Gen. Camilo Ligayo, commander of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division, said Friday the NPA in the region could not find potential leaders who would direct and make critical decisions for the group. ‘We are not sure who leads them since they are disorganized after the death of the Tiamzon couple and Helenita Pardales last year,’ Ligayo said in an interview. On April 21, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) confirmed the deaths of its leaders, couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon during a boat explosion in Catbalogan City, Samar province on Aug. 22, 2022. The Tiamzon couple made critical decisions for the armed struggle. Benito was believed to be the chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic (CPP-NDF) and its armed wing, the NPA. On the other hand, Pardales, secretary of the NPA’s Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee (EVRPC) died during a fierce gun battle on Nov. 23, 2022, at the rebel’s regional headquarters in the mountains of Imelda village in Las Navas town, Northern Samar. ‘Their strength is now diminishing and the trend is irreversible following the deaths and surrender of their key leaders and members,’ Ligayo added. Based on estimates, there are still 200 armed NPA members in the entire region, majority of them are in Northern Samar, said the official. Only two NPA guerilla fronts in Samar Island remain in existence after the dismantling of one front and the weakening of another during the first quarter of the year. Ligayo said the rebel’s Front Committee 2 operating in the boundary of Samar and Northern Samar has been demolished after the capture and surrender of some of their combatants and recovery of firearms. The NPA Front Committee 3, which operates near the boundaries of Northern and Eastern Samar, has also weakened after the series of operations conducted by government forces, according to Ligayo. Last year, at least 51 NPA combatants in the region were either killed or captured through intensified operations, according to the Philippine Army. Also in 2022, some 3,505 supporters from communities have withdrawn their support for the CPP and National Democratic Front local chapters. The dwindling number of NPA combatants and loss of support from communities has raised the confidence of the military to end the armed conflict within the year.

Source: Philippines News Agency