The whole-of-government approach has weakened the operation of communist-terrorist groups (CTGs) in Central Luzon.
National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) Regional Director Maria Luisa De Guzman said that through the collaboration of national and local governments, people see communism and insurgency now not only as a security problem but also as a social problem which affects their families and communities.
“Before, we in the security sector, including the police and military feel that it is only us who work. Now, we feel that everybody is working. What’s good about this is that we do not only touch base with the armed groups, but also with those in the urban areas where resource generation and recruitment take place,” she said.
Because of this, De Guzman said that their [CTGs] strength decreased as people become aware of the menace brought about by them, and the fact that it’s not just the New People’s Army (NPA) who are operating, but there are also those in urban areas who are recruiting more members to become armed regulars.
The continuous focused military operations resulted in the demoralization of CTGs as their leaders either get killed or arrested.
“These operations result in neutralization. Because of weakened leadership, the members are being demoralized and eventually, they prefer to withdraw support [to CTGs] because aside from being tired of violence, they know that this will get them nowhere,” De Guzman said.
The region has been successful in reducing current threats and preventing recruitment and the recurrence of these threats due to massive information campaign.
“Here in Central Luzon, in 2018, we had about 96 regular NPA members. Now there are only about 80 and this is still subject for verification because we are undergoing a lot of verification with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police,” she said.
From January to July 2021, NICA reported that there are 547 regular-armed NPA members and Militia ng Bayan who have surrendered already.
The agency also reported that from 154 long high-powered firearms in 2018, the region has only 81 now because of the remunerations that the government gives to those who surrender their firearms. (CLJD/MJSC-PIA 3)