Wed, 17 Aug 2022

TACLOBAN CITY - A Philippine Army official has warned residents in remote communities in Leyte of the New People's Army's (NPA) recruitment strategy this pandemic.

Brig. Gen. Zosimo Oliveros, Philippine Army's 802nd Infantry Brigade commander, said on Wednesday the NPA has been concentrating on organizing groups of farmers, taking advantage of their need for livelihood opportunities during this health crisis.

"People in far-flung areas are being organized and they were promised with assistance for them to cope up with the impacts of Covid-19 pandemic. They are not aware that they are being exploited by the NPA," Oliveros told reporters.

The official believes that insurgents resort to other tactics as movement restrictions hindered their regular recruitment efforts, organizing and mobilizing activities, as well as raising funds for logistics.

"In the process of organizing people, they attempt to indoctrinate them on government flaws and eventually convince them to go full-time," Oliveros added.

Blocking this strategy has been the focus of the Regional Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict through the deployment of Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) in vulnerable communities.

RCSP seeks to link arms between basic service providers from the central government, community participation groups from the local governments, and the security sector from the military and police.

In Leyte, Southern Leyte, and Biliran provinces, over 2,000 lie-low and active NPA members and mass supporters surrendered this year to the operating units of the Army's 802nd Brigade.

The recent was the surrender of 186 NPA supporters from the 10 villages of Carigara, Leyte on November 26.

There are still 40 remaining NPA fighters hiding in the mountains of Leyte Island with no permanent lair, according to Oliveros.

"Now is the best time for the enemies of the people like the NPA members to return to the mainstream of the society as the present government is giving them the great opportunity to live a normal life once again," he added.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) - NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)

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