Camp Guillermo Nakar, Lucena City – The military plans to declare Quezon province, a known bailiwick of the New People’s Army (NPA), as “insurgency-free” by the end of the year.

“Ang aking goal is zero NPA by end of 2012,” Col. Eduardo Año, commander of the Army’s 201st Infantry Brigade said in a press briefing at the Armed Forces’ Southern Luzon Command headquarters here Thursday.

According to Año, the number of NPA members in the province now only stand at 34, down from 71 in 2011.

“Ang isang ginagawa namin ngayon is reaching out to the families of the 34 and make them conduits for the possible surrender of the remaining 34,” he said.

The number of NPA “influenced” barangays now only stand at 10, down from 40 last year, the military official said.

Año said the death of Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, former spokesman of the NPA and Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), affected the rebels’ influence in Quezon.

“Sa pagkawala ni Ka Roger, maraming masa ang nawalan ng simpatiya sa NPA kasi dun sila nakaka-identify kay Ka Roger,” Año said.

Rosal, who also once headed the NPA’s Quezon-based Melito Glor Command, passed away on June 22, 2011 after suffering a heart attack.

The CPP confirmed Rosal’s death last October.

The Armed Forces calls an area “insurgency-free” when the number of rebels goes down to an “inconsequential level” and there are no more rebel influenced barangays.

It will then hand over to the police all operations against remaining rebels. (John Roson)

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