AFP vows to reduce by half NPA's 3,700 fighters

MANILA, Philippines – Another year, another chief of staff, and another promise. 

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Rey Guerrero said on Tuesday, January 9, the military is committed to weaken by 50% the communist New People's Army (NPA), which he said has estimated 3,700 fighters nationwide. 

"They have a manpower of 3,700. We intend to reduce that number by half for 2018," Guerrero told reporters on the sidelines of the military and defense department's annual New Year Call.

The NPA is responsible for Asia's longest-running communist insurgency. Its strength has been reduced from a high of 25,000 armed regulars at the height of the insurgency in the 1980s, but it keeps strong presence in pockets of communities, especially in eastern Mindanao. 

President Rodrigo Duterte also aimed to forge a peace agreement with the communists by the second year of his administration. (READ: The end of the affair? Duterte's romance with the Reds)

Talks collapsed, and Duterte has since tagged the NPA and the Communist Party of the Philippines as "terrorist organizations." 

Many chiefs of staff also aimed but failed to end the communist insurgency. The NPA is now an additional target in the exteded martial law in Mindanao. –