THE Philippine Army said it has contained threats posed by the New People’s Army (NPA) last year, and will continue to do so until the communist insurgency is no longer able to present “danger”.

Lieutenant General Delfin Bangit, Philippine Army commanding general, said the military will continue its multi-pronged approach to “further weaken” the NPA—the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)—until the rebel group becomes a “spent force.”

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“The strength of the enemy (NPA) now is down to less than 5,000 recruits. Is it not a good indication that the military is successful?” General Bangit said in a speech marking the 40th anniversary of the Fourth Infantry Division (4th ID) late last week.

In 2009, around 49 camps of the communist NPA were overrun including five top leaders and 13 high ranks were captured while 240 men surrendered, the Army official said.

The Army also recovered around 123 high powered firearms and 160 low powered firearms during their operations last year.

He said NPA forces are “getting weaker nowadays” since their membership peaked to 25,000 in the early 80s.

Bangit was confident that the military can “reduce the forces of the rebels into an insignificant level,” with the Philippine National Police (PNP) helping them with “internal security operations.”

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in 2006 to end the insurgency before her term ends, amid the series of attacks that launched by the insurgents in the countryside.

Bangit reminded the troops to “respect the rights of the people” while fighting insurgents in the field. (ALR)