THE presence of the New People's Army (NPA), the armed group of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), continues to dwindle in Davao Region, an army official said.
"The CPP-NPA is losing its mass base support. They are down by 25 percent in terms of membership and firearms but still they act as if they are still strong," said AFP Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) Deputy General Gilbeurt Gapay, who was guest in Wednesday's AFP-PNP Press Conference at the Royal Mandaya Hotel.
The army recorded a total of 63 neutralized NPA members since the lifting of the unilateral ceasefire last month.
Gapay defined neutralized rebels as those who were killed, arrested, captured or surrendered to security forces.
Despite the decrease in number, Gapay emphasized that they could not be complacent towards the NPA.
"We are conducting focus military operations to go against armed groups who promote violence," he added.
For his part, 100st Infantry Brigade (IB) Commander Macky Alberto said that most of the NPA's new members are either involved in drugs to escape the Oplan Tokhang operation of the Philippine National Police (PNP) or forced to join the rebel group.
"Almost everyday, we have NPA rebels who surrender. In fact, of the 80 neutralized in the national level, more than half belong to the Davao Region," he said.
Since February 21, Eastmincom reported a total of 21 military encounters with the rebel group, most recent was Tuesday, February 28 at New Corella and San Jose, Boston, Davao Oriental.