The number of communist armed groups in Southern Mindanao has been reduced from 23 in 2016 to only six, the commander of the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army said Monday.
In a virtual press conference of the government’s anti-insurgency task force, 10ID commander Major General Ernesto C. Torres said there is a "continuous trend" of rebels surrendering to authorities.
He said from 2016, state forces were able “to trim down the number of communist guerrilla fronts in the region from a high of 23 down to only six at present.”
The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) said since 2016, 18,433 communist rebels have surrendered to the government, including 92 “child soldiers.”
Torres said they have also shut down 82 schools allegedly established by the Communist Party of the Philippines that "deceptively recruit young Indigenous People (IPs)."
"They (schools) were already replaced by thirty five 35 DepEd accredited schools," he added.
Due to the reduction in the number of communist group members, Torres said CPP’s alleged extortion income of P7 million was reduced to P1.2 million.
On Friday, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said that the anti-insurgency task force is seeking to expand its barangay development program funding to P40 billion in 2022.
Año said that after providing P20 million each to 822 barangays cleared of insurgents in 2021, the task force wanted to provide similar funding for 2,000 more barangays in 2022. —Joviland Rita/KBK, GMA News