MANILA –Military officials declared on Sunday that the arrest of communist founder Jose Ma. Sison in the Netherlands placed in disarray the New People’s Army after troops discovered in the past two days two large and recently abandoned NPA camps in Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro and in General Nakar, Quezon.
They also claimed that two days ago, 100 NPA members surrendered to authorities in Anabel in Sarrangani and turned in more than 100 firearms.
The first NPA camp, which could house 100 people, was discovered last Friday by the reconnaissance platoon of the Army’s 4th Infantry Battalion at Sitio Kulitob in Barangay Balug, Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro, according to a report by Maj. Gen. Fernando Mesa, commanding general of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division.
The troops went to the area after they were tipped off three days ago by a “concerned” Mangyan community leader in the area upon hearing sounds coming from a generator from what turned out to be an NPA camp.
Mesa said the camp seemed to have been abandoned by the rebels just a few days ago.
The second camp was discovered Saturday at Barangay Umiray in General Nakar, Quezon by Army Scout Rangers, according to AFP Southern Luzon Command chief, Lt Gen. Rodolfo Obaniana.
Like the first camp, this camp could accommodate more or less 100 rebels.
The camp had 10 huts of different sizes, six electric posts, 25-meter firing range, a basketball court that also served as a lecture area, according to an Army report.
The discovery of the camp came days after a group of Special Forces raided an NPA safehouse in Sitio Vampo, barangay Umiray in General Nakar, Quezon.
Lt. Col. Ernesto Torres, the Army spokesperson, said the camp could have been used by NPA spokesperson Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal.
Having been assigned to the area before, Torres said he got information that the camp was where Rosal held “plenums” and large-scale training of rebel troops.
He also reported the surrender of 100 NPA rebels in Anabel, Saranggani, and the turnover of 100 firearms to authorities.
“Now we got the camp that they had used for their training. So we can say that they are in disarray and probably, the rebels were finding life difficult in the mountains and that was why many of them are now going down,” he said.
Asked whether this had to do with Sison’s arrest in the Netherlands last week, Torres said this was possible.
Capt. Carlo Ferrer, spokesperson of the Army’s 2ID, said the arrest of Sison prompted rebels to abandon their camps. He said the “dwindling support from the people” as well as the “relentless pursuit by government forces” combined with Sison’s arrest to demoralize rebel troops.