The New People’s Army-Eastern Visayas (NPA-EV) declared that the 8th ID is once again bound to fail in meeting its new deadline to “decimate” three guerrilla fronts in the region by the end of the second quarter of 2021, and another front before Rodrigo Duterte’s term ends.
In a report this month, the NPA-EV said that 18 combat battalions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) are currently operating in the region. This is the largest concentration of state forces deployed in the area in history. At least 15 towns are under focused combat operations, including those in Southern Leyte, Leyte and Biliran which were previously declared “insurgency-free.”
In February, 226 elements of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) were also deployed in the region. In addition, 86 CAFGU detachments are also dispersed across the region. In its operations, the AFP utilizes attack planes, helicopters and drones.
Despite this, the AFP and PNP continues to sustain casualties. On February 13, two PNP-SAF troops were killed in an active defense maneuver by the Rodante Urtal Command in Ginagdanan, San Roque, Northern Samar. After two days, the same NPA unit ambushed the 43rd IB in Barangay Cagbigajo, Pambujan in the same province.
In February, at least four offensives were mounted by the NPA against operating AFP troops along the boundary of Samar and Eastern Samar.
The forced surrender campaign of the AFP is also futile. The 19th IB itself admitted that “surrenderees” actually end up returning to the NPA as full-time fighters. This was declared by the commander of the said military unit during a forced surrender ceremony in Matuguinao in February.