Lauding the significant gains of the National Task Force to End Local Communist (lNTF ELCAC), the newly-installed Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is confident that the multi-pronged approach of Executive Order 70 will put an end to the treacherous life cycle of the more than five decades of insurgency.
Speaking during the AFP Change of Command ceremony on Jan. 4, Lt. General Felimon Santos, said unlike in the past when local chief executives left the insurgency problem solely to the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to deal with, EO involves all government agencies from the national to the barangay level with delineated roles and responsibilities in the whole-of-nation approach.
“Government agencies and their corresponding units at all levels cooperate, interact, support, provide practical solutions and solve problems and issues on the ground that are being exploited by these communist terrorists in order to stir-up our countrymen to fight against our government through armed struggle,” Santos said.
He added that EO 70, which was signed by President R. Duterte in December 2018, created NTF ELCAC that institutionalized a whole-of-nation approach in obtaining exclusive and sustainable peace-giving us an effective solution against communist-terrorists.
“This multi-pronged approach addresses the motivation for insurgency and will hopefully put an end to its treacherous life cycle,” he said, adding that by doing so, there will be no reason for the Communist Party of the Philippines, its armed wing the New People’s Army, and the National Democratic Front to agitate, organize and mobilize the vulnerable sectors and communities.
Santos, who headed the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command based in Davao City, said he witnessed what EO provides for as it is being actually done in the provinces of Davao Oriental by Governor Nelson Dayanghirang, Davao de Oro by Governor Tyron Uy, Davao del Norte by Governor Edwin Jubahib, and Davao City by Mayor Sara Duterte.
“Good governance practices and the efficient delivery of basic services for their constituents create resilient communities that thwart the return of the communist terrorist groups in their respective provinces and city,” he added.
The AFP, he said, can now focus its resources, manpower, and firepower on the remaining communists who persist with armed struggle despite the government’s goodwill through cash assistance, livelihood training, and housing.
Santos, who is the 53rd AFP Chief of Staff taking the top military post from retired General Noel Clement, vowed to immediately neutralize groups that insist on seizing political power through armed struggle and other local terrorist groups like Abu Sayyaf.
“We shall effectively counter their narratives through good governance, build community trust and earn the people’s respect, he said.
He added that vigilance, support, and cooperation in the local populace are needed in order to suppress and prevent any future terroristic plans from occurring and avoiding the unnecessary loss of human lives and damage to property.
“The AFP should always be battle-ready to counteract any threat that confronts our desire for peace,” he said, adding that the AFP remains committed to supporting and working towards a successful implementation of the agreements for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the peace accord with the Moro National Liberation Front. (PNA)
The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday said it has asked the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) to issue a ‘red notice’ to expedite the arrest of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) leader Jose Maria “Joma” Sison for his alleged involvement in the so-called Inopacan massacre in Leyte.
PNP chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde said they are now coordinating with the Philippine Center on Transnational Crime (PCTC) to start the process against Sison who is currently in self-exile in Utrecht, Netherlands.
“The PNP, thru the PCTC, is making representations with the Interpol for the issuance of a red notice for the arrest of Jose Maria Sison to face trial in the Philippines for the crime of murder,” Albayalde told reporters during the press briefing held at Camp Crame.
A red notice forces police worldwide to go after fugitives who are hiding in their respective countries.
The PCTC is the Interpol National Central Bureau (NCB) in the Philippines.
“Sison is in self-exile in Utrecht, The Netherlands from where he continues to exercise command and control of the New People’s Army, the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines under the umbrella of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines that is waging a terrorist campaign in some parts of the Philippines,” Albayalde said.
“His wife and co-accused Juliet De Lima Sison is with him in the Netherlands,” he added.
The PNP chief said the legal basis for an Interpol red notice is an arrest warrant or court order issued by judicial authorities in a country.
On Aug. 28, the Regional Trial Court Branch 32 in Manila issued the warrant of arrest against self-exiled Sison and 37 individuals including National Democratic Front (NDF) consultants Luis Jalandoni, Prudencio Calubid, and Geronimo Pasetes.
RTC Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina ordered the arrest of the 38 individuals for their alleged involvement in the so-called Inopacan massacre in Leyte on Sept. 2, 1985. No bail was recommended.
Based on estimates of former rebels and the victims’ relatives, the Inopacan massacre, dubbed by the New People’s Army as “Oplan Venereal Disease”, claimed the lives of about 300 residents in Leyte province.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)
The Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID) called on communist rebels to end the recruitment of child soldiers as it joined the country in the observance of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) on Monday, September 9.
AFP TO REDS: END RECRUITMENT OF CHILD WARRIORS
The Army division also reaffirmed the Army oath to protect human rights.
OATH TO PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS. Maj. Gen. Franco Nemesio Gacal, commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, led the pledge of reaffirmation of commitment and support for the International Humanitarian Law, along with other key military officers in Camp Evangelista, Cagayan de Oro City, on Monday.
The activity was spearheaded by Maj. Gen. Franco Nemesio Gacal, 4ID commander, together with officers and men of the Cagayan de Oro City-based Army division.
A key part of the observance is the pledge of reaffirmation of commitment and support for the International Humanitarian Law led by Brig. General Oliver Vesliño, the assistant division commander.
In his message, the 4ID chief also warned the parents on the revelations of former rebels that the New People’s Army is recruiting minors as young as 12-years-old.
Gacal said they are “alarmed” with the latest data based on the result of the 4ID Custodial Debriefing Reports from 2016 to 2019, showing NPA’s extensive recruitment among minors in Northern Mindanao.
“The recruitment of minors is clear evidence of the continuous violations and deceptions of the NPA rebels,” he said.
Gacal read the message of President Rodrigo Duterte to the troops, echoing the Chief Executive’s directive to “continue to impress upon everyone the Philippine government’s committed adherence to the guiding principles of the International Humanitarian Law, while addressing the threats to national peace and security.”
The commitment, Gacal said, is summed up in this year’s theme, “IHL: Protecting the Defenseless in Times of Armed Conflict.”
Meanwhile, the 4ID’s 8th Infantry Battalion (8IB) also took the oath of reaffirmation to IHL during the flag-raising ceremony at the Battalion Headquarters in Bukidnon on the same day. Led by 1Lt. Kenneth Cabbigat, civil-military operations officer, the troops swore to strictly adhere and abide by the provisions of the IHL in the discharge of their duties and functions — especially on protecting the civilians and non-combatants.
Dialogue with IPs
Recently, 8IB provided assistance to several Indigenous Peoples (IP) members in Bukidnon who were accused as communist sympathizers.
Lt. Col. Ronald Illana, 8IB commander, called on groups and individuals — even government officials –engaged in “red-tagging” IP leaders to refrain from activities that he said may only sow division in the community.
“In winning the insurgency, we are counting friends not the enemies; I am reminding the friends of the government to stop tagging others to the NPA group,” Illana said.
“If ever some of them support the terrorists, we knew that they were forced to do so, they were victims of threat and we are visiting them through our Community Support Program efforts,” he said.
Illana said 8IB troopers met with the Higaonon elders in Impasug-ong town on Sept. 5 to answer all their concerns and clarify certain issues.
During the meeting, tribal chieftain Benny Cumatang reminded other Higaonons to “love our community. Let us live as one, and avoid accusing our colleagues as supporters of NPA-terrorists unless you have concrete evidence.”
“We have our 8th IB Army and the PNP (Philippine National Police) to work on the insurgency problem and peace and order situation in our municipality, let us help them by giving information and guiding our community,” Cumatang said. (PNA)