THE Armed Forces of the Phiippines (AFP) hopes to end communist insurgency in three years time.
Brig. General Aurelio Baladad, new commander of the 3rd Infantry Division (ID), said the time frame was based on the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan, the government’s new anti-insurgency strategy.
The 3rd ID has jurisdiction over the whole Panay island and the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, the remaining NPA bailiwicks.
Baladad also called on the rebels to renounce their armed violence, saying there are other ways to solve the problem.
“The core competence of a soldier is to fight but basically it is also very hard if it’s all war. So there should be a way for these rebels to get back to society. Many of them have actually decided to go down (from the mountain and join mainstream society),” he added.
Baladad said the key to development is a peaceful atmosphere, adding that if the NPA would not renounce insurgency, the military would have no other recourse but to continue with its security operations.
Balalad said there are 418 rebels operating in the 3ID’s area of responsibility.
When he assumed the AFP’s top post early this year, Gen. Emmanuel Bautista vowed to make the NPA irrelevant before the end of his tour of duty or before the Aquino administration ends in 2016.
“That is our goal, for the NPA to be irrelevant, for the armed struggle to be ended, to render the armed struggle irrelevant,” he said. “By the end of my term, substantially, I’m not saying zero, it can never approach zero.”
While he said that the time frame of IPSP Bayanihan is up to 2016, Bautista stressed there must be substantial accomplishments on its target achievement this year.
Bautista spearheaded the crafting of the IPSP Bayanihan when he was AFP deputy chief of staff for operations in 2010.
The IPSP Bayanihan aims to reduce internal armed threats to a level that they cannot endanger the stability of the state, and civil authorities can ensure the safety and well-being of the people.
William B. Depasupil