From the Philippine Star (Jan 1): AFP expects more provinces with NPA to normalize
The military expects more areas grappling with communist insurgency to undergo 'normalization' this year and vowed to work closely with civilians to make it possible.
Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said once a province is declared normalized, the lead role of maintaining peace and security would be transferred from the military to local governments.
He said an area has undergone normalization if local governments and other civilian stakeholders are already active in addressing the causes of rebellion and if insurgency has weakened due to such efforts.
“The root causes of insurgency should be solved not by the military alone but by everyone,” he said.
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), however, refuted this outlook and even claimed that the military’s security plan Bayanihan has failed.
“As 2013 ends, we can conclusively declare the defeat of the Aquino regime’s Oplan Bayanihan which failed in its declared aim of reducing the armed strength of the New People’s Army (NPA) to inconsequentiality by the middle of this year,” CPP said in a statement.
The CPP said its fighters would continue to “undertake more frequent tactical offensives.”
“This year, every NPA command must gun for a record increase in the number of weapons seized from the reactionary military, paramilitary and police forces,” the group said.
Bayanihan, which took effect in 2011, seeks to end insurgency by curbing its roots like poverty and lack of access to basic services.
The first three years of the implementation of the security plan will focus on addressing internal armed threat groups.
The final three years of Bayanihan, which starts this year, will be devoted to handing over the lead role in ensuring internal peace and security to civilian government agencies. Such turnover will allow the military to focus on its transition towards territorial defense.
Zagala believes the military would be able to accomplish the requirements in the security plan.
“We’re optimistic that we will be able to make it,” Zagala said.
“They (rebels) are against our way of life, our democracy, our freedoms and institutions. We should cherish them by protecting them and we can do so by finding solutions in our own way,” he added.
He said 29 of 81 provinces have undergone normalization due to the military’s anti-insurgency campaigns.
These are Cavite, Marinduque, Romblon, Guimaras, Cebu, Siquijor, Biliran, Bohol, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Aklan, Antique, Eastern Samar, Apayao, La Union, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Kalinga, Nueva Viscaya, Quirino, Nueva Ecija, Aurora, Benguet, Batanes, Camiguin, Misamis Oriental, South Cotabato, Saranggani and Davao Oriental.
The CPP, however, claimed that the mass struggle against the government would intensify this year due to supposed worsening economic conditions and corruption.
Admin and Finance Officers from Regional Offices and Central Management Office of BDA participated in the activity held at Alnor Hotel in Cotabato City on December 24-26, 2013.
Engr. Windel Diangcalan, BDA Program Division Head, described Admin and Finance Divisions as the “lifeblood of any organization” and pointed out the crucial role of Admin and Finance Officers for the smooth operation of the organization.
Ustadz Mohammad S. Yacob, BDA Executive Director, reminded the participants the value of cooperation and teamwork. “We are in BDA and we are helping each other, we do not let our colleagues fail,” Yacob said. “Rather we help them, we support them, and we teach them,” he continued.
Parts of the workshop were the review and re-orientation of the Operational Manual of the agency on its Admin and Financial Management.
The Heads of Admin Division and Finance Division presented and discussed the policies and guidelines of BDA on admin and financial management.
Participants from different Regions of BDA interacted with questions and concerns they raised. The resource persons gave corresponding reply for every concern that surfaced.
A panel of critiques was invited to observe and provide inputs on the discussions with specific advises on topics that were identified.
To further explore ways of improving the mechanisms in the operation, the operational manual was laid down against the actual situation during the program operations and implementations.
One of the recommendations stressed by the panel is for BDA to harmonize its manual with what is the actual happening. Accordingly, it should be from the actual situations that the BDA shall draw the revision and enhancement of its operational manual both in Admin and Finance.
Further, the panel noted BDA’s unique identity being neither a government institution nor non-government organization. BDA identified itself as quasi government being product of the negotiation between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
One of the highlights of discussion during the 3-day workshop is the challenges faced by the Sajahatra Program which is its initial stage of learning and forming its capacities especially on its financial management. Sajahatra received support from the World Bank for its operations last September 2013.
“We are still at the stage of knowing the ‘how-to’ and ‘what-to do’ given that each region has different situations,” said Amon Jadeeda Pacasem, Finance Officer of the Program in its Central Management Office.
She pointed out, “We have limited resources and capacities but we are willing to learn and improve.”
Pacasem expressed her thanks for being part of the workshop where they got advices and support from their seniors.
Part of the enhancement workshop is the promotion of camaraderie and team building among the staff from different regions.
Through games and workshops, the participants established teamwork and friendship and also learned the values of leadership, cooperation, unity and sensitivity to others needs.
BDA, the show window of Bangsamoro governance, aims to develop a Moro workforce with values formation, capability-building initiatives and education.
It establishes strong footing on Islamic values and good governance and strengthens transparency mechanism in the organization.
The agency has Central Management Office based in Cotabato City and seven Regional Management Offices namely Central Mindanao, Southern Mindanao, Davao, Ranaw (Lanao), Zamboanga Peninsula, Zamboanga-Basilan, and Sulu - Tawi-tawi.
It is tasked to determine, lead and manage relief, rehabilitation and development projects in the conflict affected areas of Mindanao.
BDA is currently drafting the Bangsamoro Development Plan in support to the proposed Bangsamoro Government, a new political entity that will replace the current Autonomous Region on Muslim Mindanao by 2016.