From Malaya Business Insight (Apr 24): Can military chief end communist insurgency?
NEW Armed Forces chief Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. is focused on ending the communist insurgency and terrorism problems but a security official doubts it can be done by December when Galvez reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56.
“Decisively end insurgency, put and end to violent extremism,” AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bienvenido Datuin on the thrust of Galvez who assumed the highest military post on Wednesday last week.
The security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the insurgency problem, which is about five decades old, may last for another five to 10 years. He cited the government’s decision in 2016 to release communist leaders, who are serving as consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, so they can participate in the peace negotiations which President Duterte cancelled in November last year.
“Right now, they are free. They will always be there organizing,” the official said, referring to Benito Tiamzon, his wife Wilma Austria, Allan Jazmines, and Tirso Alcantara, among others.
“You have to get the core group. Unless you get the core group, whatever you do, they won’t surrender... The leadership is providing the leadership, the rest are just palliative,” the official said.
He noted that in other poor and injustice-plagued countries, there are is insurgency because there are no cadres. “You have to arrest the… cadres... There are 30 plus to 40 (of them),” he said of the core group members.
He said the core group includes Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, who has been on self-exile in the Netherlands since the 1980s.
On the terrorism problem, the official he is anticipating the problem to last “several years” more because the government in general is slow in going after the resources of terrorist groups and its members.
He noted that the military filed a forfeiture case against Maute members before the Anti-Money Laundering Council as early as three years ago but said “it is only now this is being realized.”
“It will take years,” said the source when asked when the military can finally end the terrorism problem.
The Maute group was responsible for the five-month armed conflict in Marawi City last year. They looted banks and other institutions of millions during their occupation of parts of the city, and were reported to have taken some of the money out of the city on their escape.
As to how the problem should be solved, he said: “This requires a holistic approach, economic. You have to address their livelihood… the legal problem. There are many loopholes on the legal side.”
“There is also the social. You have to seek the cooperation of the Muslim religious sector... I always believe Islam is a religion of peace but the problem is there are religious extremists,” he said.
Datuin has said the military intends to end the communist insurgency and terrorist problems “through vigorous implementation” of a support program under the Development Support and Security Plan Bayanihan.
The DSSP Plan Bayanihan is the military’s blueprint in winning the peace in the countryside. The campaign plan was implemented at the start of 2017, replacing the Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan of the previous administration.
Datuin said Galvez is also focused safeguarding the country’s territorial waters, supporting law enforcement agencies in the fight against illegal drugs and criminality, and promoting transparency, good governance and fighting against corruption in the ranks.
Former AFP chief Eduardo Año, now officer-in-charge of the interior department, vowed to defeat or reduce the NPA strength from around 4,100 men to less than 1,000. This was in July 2015 when he became Army chief. In October last year, Año said he wanted the communists defeated by end of this year.
Recently retired AFP chief Rey Leonardo Guerrero targeted to reduce the NPA strength of about 3,700 men by half at the end of this year.