Saturday, February 11, 2017

No collateral damage

From the Mindanao Times (Feb 10): No collateral damage

AFP: foremost concern is civilians’ safety, protection
THE ARMED Forces of the Philippines (AFP) assures there will be no collateral damage on the civilian populace in the all-out war against the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
“Yes of course, we will make sure that in our all-out war against the CPP-NPA, the AFP shall adhere to the rule of law — respect human rights and observe the international humanitarian law,” AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año, told TIMES.

“Our foremost concern is the safety and protection of innocent civilians,” Año added. “There will be no collateral damage.”

Año said they will assess the overall situation in Davao region so they can have the basis of adjustment in their campaign plan to include the possibility of redeploying of additional battalions to Davao and Caraga regions.

Last year, three battalions of the Davao-based 10th Infantry Division (ID) were deployed to Basilan to help in the fight against the Abu Sayyaf Group.
Maj. General Rafael Valencia, 10th ID commander, said the military offensive is always guided with the rules of engagement under the current Development Support and Security Plan kapayapaan.

“The focus of our operations is targeted against the armed groups not the civilian, and one of the requirements is that there should be no collateral damage,” Valencia said during Wednesday’s AFP-PNP press conference held at conference room of Davao City Police Office.

“Because the civilians are the one we are securing,” Valencia said. “That is why we will address the armed group.”

The army general said that he already directed all the brigade and battalion commanders to be on defensive mode.

For now, the division is operating against 11 guerilla fronts and three section committees under their area of responsibility.
Valencia said the AFP has accounted 973 NPA forces before the ceasefire.

He said they are revalidating the figure because during the five-month ceasefire the NPA conducted recruitment and training.

“We have enough forces to provide security in Davao and Socsksargen regions against this armed group,” he said.

Guarding an estimated population of 6.4 million, the 10th ID encompasses 4 regions, 12 provinces, 7 cities, 72 municipalities and 1, 681 barangays. It covers the Davao Region, parts of Region 12 (Sarangani, South Cotabato, 2nd District of North Cotabato and Columbio, Sultan Kudarat), Trento in Agusan del Sur and Lingig in Surigao del Sur.
Meanwhile, the 10th ID soldiers dropped 5,000 copies of leaflets, enclosed with the message urging NPA guerillas to surrender, in the area of 67th Infantry Battalion in Davao Oriental.

Capt. Rhyan Batchar, the division spokesperson, said they dropped the leaflets through the use of two Huey helicopters to encourage rebels to surrender.

Cash reward awaits rebel who surrenders with the firearm.

They would get P60,000 for surrendered M14; P58,000 for AK 47; P45,000 for M16; P34,000 for garan; P33,000 for light machine gun; P30,000 for 357 revolver; P29,000 for carbine and P16,500 for .45 caliber pistol.

They will also be enrolled into the Comprehensive Local Integration Program of the provincial government of Davao Oriental.

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