BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – An Army general commanding soldiers in the region said the Communist New People’s Army is projecting itself as still a significant force despite its successive field losses as part of preparations for increased extortion activities in the coming 2022 polls.
Major General Benedict Arevalo told DNX the recent clash in the mountain community of Tiyos in Moises Padilla town was only part of the propaganda of the rebels to show that it still has armed strength despite the fact that at least two rebel fronts, the Army reported earlier, had already been broken up by a combination of combat operations and civil military operations by the Army and the civilian government.
Such is the case in central Negros, where Moises Padilla is located, where the rebel front was reportedly destroyed last year.
A “front” under rebel definition is an area where a platoon of around 20 to 30 heavily-armed guerrillas operate, an armed force that the New People’s Army says is used to “project Red political power” over a territory roughly equivalent to a government’s political district that covers several towns and cities.
Presuming there is no front already in central Negros, why were the rebels able to muster at least 20 armed men who dealt a loss to the Army of two soldiers killed and four wounded?
“It does not mean that if an area is cleared that the rebels cannot enter it again,” Arevalo told DNX a day after the clash on 4 November 2021.
Arevalo added it is also possible that the 20 armed rebels could have come from nearby areas who were deployed to conduct what the Army reported as” terroristic and extortion” activities they were about to conduct in the area.
Moises Padilla, also called Magallon, is a third class town more than 60 kilometers south of here, and is one of the areas heavily influenced by the rebels based on previous reports of the police and military.
It shares borders with Guihulngan City, its Oriental Negros neighbor, where Frank Fernandez based his small band of NPAs and slowly rebuilt the “reaffirmist” or pro Jose Ma. Sison faction of the Communist Party of the Philippines in the 90s.
Fernandez is a former priest who used to lead the CPP here and who was captured by soldiers several years ago.
He remains in jail.
Jose Ma. Sison or Joma, on the other hand, is the self exiled founder of the CPP and who styles himself as a philosophical follower of China’s Mao Zedong.