43 provinces free from communist rebels, military says

Posted at 01/17/14 9:28 PM

MANILA - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday said the communist New People's Army (NPA) failed to expand their mass base support, after 16 more provinces -- the latest of which is Pampanga -- were cleared of the rebels last year.

This brought the number of insurgency-free provinces to 43, out of the 64 NPA-affected provinces nationwide (56 percent).

The AFP said 824 NPA rebels were "neutralized" and 425 firearms were seized by government forces in 2013.

"The NPA miserably failed in achieving its goals bound on its 5-Year Central Plan which ended in 2013," a statement from the AFP said.

The figures were released during a command conference of senior military leaders who discussed the gains of internal security operations and headways against the communist rebel movement.

Meanwhile, the AFP said it neutralized 502 rogue Moro National Liberation Front rebels. A total of 208 were killed, 24 surrendered, and 270 were captured during the defense of Zamboanga in September.

A total of 324 firearms were also recovered.

In February 2013, the AFP also deployed ground, air and naval assets against armed followers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram to prevent the spillover of violence and assist displaced persons in Lahad Datu, Sabah.

The AFP, meanwhile, continued operations to contain the threat by the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the southern Philippines.