MANILA -- After the recent ambush staged by New People's Army (NPA) rebels in Negros Occidental, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the communist group killed an average of one civilian per week last year.
The AFP claimed that the NPA rebels were responsible for 374 violent incidents recorded in 2012 that killed 53 civilians over the country.
The military further claimed that these violent incidents allegedly staged by the NPA also resulted in the death of 81 members of the AFP, eight from the Philippine National Police (PNP), and 22 Cafgu Active Auxiliary (CAA) personnel.
"Such atrocities is a clear manifestation of the NPAs resorting to force and intimidation to coerce civilians including private firms and individuals, even poor folks in far flung villages of the country to give in to their demands since the NPA has lost its mass base support already," the military said in a statement.
"The NPA still uses the armed violence to sow fear and panic among the people to propagate their extortion activities," the AFP added.
In January this year, the NPA conducted 10 violent activities, which killed 10 and wounded nine civilians, the military said. These incidents also resulted in the deaths of three uniformed personnel from the AFP, PNP, and CAA while 27 others were wounded.
"This clearly shows that the rebel group continues to pursue armed violence despite ongoing peace efforts by the government," the military said.
Among the most recent attack of the NPA was the January 22 ambush in La Castellana, Negros Occidental, wherein eight civilians and a policeman were killed, while nine others were wounded.
"The AFP strongly condemned this recent attack and vowed to continue its focused security operations aimed at targeting those who continue to pursue armed violence that has caused suffering to the people and loss of innocent lives," the military said.
The rebels also committed 10 violations during the extended ceasefire from December 16, 2012 to January 15 this year.
According to the military, five harassment incidents by the NPA were recorded in Agusan del Norte, Malaybalay City in Bukidnon, North Cotabato, Tanay, Rizal; South Cotabato, and Camarines Sur. At least one soldier and a militiaman were killed while two others were wounded in these incidents.
Two abduction incidents, arson, ambush, and liquidation by the rebels were also recorded, resulting in the death of one militiaman.
The AFP said the rebels "continue to capitalize on soft targets" and use improvised explosive devices, ambushes, extortion and sabotage of economic facilities in the past years.
But despite these incidents, the new AFP chief, who is also behind the military's counter-insurgency program, said they will remain committed against the "NPA atrocities and armed violence" while pursuing peace efforts.
"[T]he AFP will remain supportive of the peace efforts and peace-building undertakings of the government. We will continue to intensify our focused security operations against armed rebels who continue to wage armed violence causing loss of innocent lives, destruction of properties, and damage to vital economic facilities and infrastructures," AFP Chief of Staff, General Emmanuel Bautista said.
In his formal assumption last month, Bautista urged the NPA rebels to abandon their armed struggle and pursue the "road to peace" instead.
The military said 555 NPA personalities were neutralized in 2012 including 367 who voluntarily surrendered to the government.
So far this year, 21 NPA personalities were neutralized including 19 who surrendered to the government. (Emmanuel Louis Bacani/Sunnex)