Manila – The Philippine military said Monday its much-criticized anti-insurgency campaign has reduced the number of armed communist guerrillas in the country by 50 per cent.
Brigadier General Francisco Cruz, military civil relations commander, said the number of communist rebels dropped to 4,642 in the first quarter of 2010 from 9,260 when the armed forces launched the internal security campaign in 2002.
Cruz said the number of villages under the influence of the rebels Philippines also declined 57 per cent to 1,017 from 2,395 when the anti-insurgency programme was launched.
Cruz also noted that from 2005-09, a total of 5,417 rebels surrendered to the government
, including 21 high-ranking guerrillas.
‘This counter-insurgency plan has also significantly contributed to the improvement of the business climate and tourism in the provinces,’ Cruz said.
Local and international human rights groups have criticized the campaign as providing an atmosphere of impunity that has resulted in more than 1,000 extra-judicial killings of political activists.
There were also over 200 cases of forced disappearances allegedly perpetrated by the military under the anti-insurgency campaign.
Communist rebels have been fighting the government since the late 1960s, making the movement one of the longest-running leftist insurgencies in Asia.