The strength of the New People’s Army in Negros Occidental rose by 200 percent in the last 10 years, military records show.
Col. Jon Aying, deputy commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, in his security briefing yesterday for members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Negros Occidental, said the NPA strength increased from 75 armed rebels in 2002 to 241 in the first semester of 2011, in Negros Occidental with an estimated 150 firearms.
Aying said there were only two Army battalions securing the whole island of Negros from 2002 to 2008, compared to five battalions now, with the arrival of 302nd Infantry Brigade, which supervises the 11th and 79th Infantry Battalions in Negros Oriental.
In 2011, the 303rd Infantry Brigade figured in 23 armed skirmishes with the NPA, 18 of which had taken place in northern Negros, a military report also showed.
In the same year, Romeo Nanta, an alleged commander of the NPA in Negros island, was among several leaders and members of the NPA, who were neutralized by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and National Police, through their apprehensions, by virtue of arrest warrants, the report said.
Meanwhile, a project proposal has been submitted by the 303rd Infantry Brigade to Maranon for the development of 111 conflict-affected communities in Negros Occidental, including the eight villages recommended by the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade, and three more areas earmarked for families of former NPA combatants.
Bayan-Negros secretary general Christian Tuayon, claimed in a statement yesterday, that allocating more funds to the RPA-ABB will result in less assistance for the earthquake victims in Negros Oriental.
The RPA-ABB entered into a peace agreement with the government in 2000.
Tuayon also alleged that Maranon has consistently snubbed the progressive organizations, who held a rally in front of the Provincial Capitol Building in Bacolod City, to slam alleged abuses of the RPA-ABB, among others.
“The governor is more interested in talking with his imported sheep than his local constituents,” Tuayon said.* GPB