AFP reports over 300 rebel surrenderees in January

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FILE PHOTO

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 31) — The Armed Forces of the Philippines said 2018 could be its "breakthrough year" in getting more terrorists to surrender to the government.

In January alone, the AFP reported 310 rebels from the New People's Army surrendered to the military.

Seven other fighters from the Abu Sayyaf group in Tawi-Tawi and Sulu gave up their arms this month.

This brings the total to 167 Abu Sayyaf members surrendering to the military since January 2017.

AFP spokesman Edgard Arevalo said they are continuously receiving more surrenderees from local terror groups.

"These are indicators of growing discontent within their organizations, the success of all our programs, especially cooperation of local residents and governments in the area," he added.

The AFP said they have reports of more rebels wanting to lay down their arms, which they attribute to a renewed focus to crack down on terror groups.

AFP chief Lt. Gen. Rey Guerrero earlier said there are currently about 3,700 communist rebels nationwide, which the military aims to reduce by half by year-end.

On December 5 last year, President Rodrigo Duterte declared the Communist Party of the Philippines, along with its armed wing, the New People's Army, a terrorist organization.

This follows the formal cancellation of the peace talks between the government and the left on November 23.