Philippine Army commander, Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay. (Photo courtesy of the Army Chief Public Affairs Office)
MANILA – Some 124 terrorists were killed in 279 armed encounters against communist and local terror groups in the first semester of 2020, the Philippine Army (PA) said on Saturday.
In a statement, Army commander Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay said 95 others were captured while 422 firearms were seized from these operations despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis.
In a virtual command conference on Thursday to present the Army’s accomplishments in the past six months, Gapay lauded his field commanders for their operational “verve and outstanding performance.”
“Moreover, the convergence of efforts of various government agencies, local government units, civil society organizations, local communities, and the security sector have facilitated the surrender of 1,705 terrorists with 378 assorted firearms with the aggressive implementation of the whole-of-nation approach through the National Task Force in Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC),” he said.
During the command conference, Gapay also reported that the campaign from January to June led to the neutralization or surrender of nine ranking officials of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
Central Committee member Julius Soriano Giron was killed in a gunfight after resisting arrest during a search warrant operation in Baguio City last March 13.
His wife, Anne Margarette Tauli, a member of the Executive Committee and former secretary of the Regional White Area Committee of the Ilocos – Cordillera Regional Committee (ICRC) voluntarily yielded to authorities in Kin-iway, Besao, Mountain Province on June 4.
According to Gapay, Giron, who was also head of the National Military Commission, was responsible for the death of numerous military personnel and innocent civilians, loss of economic assets and civilian properties due to arson, and the displacement of thousands of people due to harassment and terrorist acts.
He said that with Giron’s death, the CPP is currently in crisis due to a leadership vacuum, as there is no immediate qualified replacement, while Tauli’s surrender is also a major blow to the resource generation activities of the Ilocos – Cordillera Regional Committee.
Gapay said these series of losses and the enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Law, which took effect on Saturday, would hasten the defeat of the terrorist groups.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)