By John Rey Saavedra

ENCOUNTER. Three bodies of male New People’s Army rebels are left at the encounter site following the 20-minute exchange of fire between government troops and the insurgents in Barangay Torocadan, San Joaquin, Iloilo before dawn Wednesday (Feb. 28, 2024). Fourteen rebels were killed by the Visayas Command in February. (Photo courtesy of 301st Infantry Brigade)

CEBU CITY – The Visayas Command (Viscom) said Saturday that military operations will now be focused on preventing the resurgence of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in communities already cleared of insurgency.

Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, Viscom chief, said in a statement that after the devastating blows against the CPP-NPA in February, they must ensure that insurgents could not take any foothold in areas where development is inevitable.

At least 30 rebels were neutralized during the February operations, 14 of whom died in encounters, 15 surrendered, and one apprehended.

“Our mission is not yet over. We may have achieved significant gains in our campaign last month, but there is a lot to be done,” he said.

“Our forces are now focused on preventing the resurgence of the CPP-NPA in the Visayas by neutralizing the few remaining members of the terrorist group,” he added.

He said three of the 30 rebels neutralized last month were classified high-value suspects.

Rolando Caballera (alias Chow/Brooks), a member of the NPA’s regional executive committee in Eastern Visayas, died during the encounter in Albuera, Leyte, on Feb. 10.

Domingo Compoc (alias Cobra/Silong), the top NPA leader in Bohol, was killed in Bilar town on Feb. 23.

Rena Rhea Camariosa (alias Kira/Sheena), second deputy secretary of the NPA’s Southern Panay Front, was left to die by his comrades following an encounter in San Joaquin, Iloilo.

“The success of our campaign in its early stage this year is attributed to the active support of our people, having freed them from the clutches of the terrorist group last year. This is the reason why we cannot stop,” Arevalo said. (PNA)