Gov’t can secure surrendering NPA rebels: Lorenzana

The government and the military are more than ready to secure members of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) who are ready to surrender and rejoin their loved ones and families in mainstream society.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana made this pronouncement Friday when asked if the government and the military are capable of protecting NPA members who want to surrender but are afraid to go ahead with their plan due to threats from their comrades.

“Sure we can. We have people in all areas ready to help them: the local elected officials, police, military, DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development), in fact the whole government machinery,” he said in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

The NPA, the CPP’s armed wing, is listed as a terrorist organization in the United States and the European Union.

Earlier, the defense chief said the threat posed by the CPP-NPA is waning, due to the localized peace talks and Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

These strategies are responsible for the surrender of NPA regular members and supporters last year.

Lorenzana earlier said that the NPA is no longer a formidable force as its numbers have been greatly reduced.

“They are not that strong because their number is only about less than 6,000. About 1,000 armed rebels (have) already surrendered, so the remaining is 4,000. But their militia is big — those who support them. If we reckon, we estimate that there are about 50,000 nationwide militia who support them. These militia are what we want to get,” he added. (PNA/Priam Nepomuceno)