DILG backs task force vs Reds

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New People’s Army (NPA)

THE DEPARTMENT of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has expressed support for the proposal of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to have a multi-agency task force that would address the communist insurgency.

“The government is cognizant that effectively ending insurgency requires not only police and military response but necessitates a triad of development, governance and security efforts,” DILG Officer-in-Charge Eduardo M. Año, a former AFP chief, said in a statement last week.

AFP Chief General Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., in a television interview last week, said the military has requested President Rodrigo R. Duterte to issue an executive order creating a national body that will draw up plans and implement the strategy against communist fighters, particularly members of the New People’s Army.

Mr. Galvez said the military needs the support of the government and other stakeholders to counter the 50-year old communist rebellion, which is not just an armed struggle but a political matter.

Mr. Año agreed, saying the problem needs a “whole-of-government” approach as rebels are stirring anti-government sentiments by exploiting issues on corruption, price hikes, and indigenous peoples’ concerns.

“Insurgency is rooted in poverty, inequality, and grievances that could be addressed by respective mandates of various government institutions. We have all the mechanisms to face these issues but all government agencies have to perform our roles in a concerted manner,” Mr. Año said.

Mr. Año also claimed that the government is winning the battle as more rebels surrender.

“In fact we are winning the battle in the mountains. There are so many surrendered now. It’s in the propaganda war and parliamentary battle that we are loosing,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rey C. Casambre, consultant of the National Democratic Font of the Philippines, the umbrella group of the communist movement, said the proposed anti-insurgency body will not succeed as in previous attempts by the government.

Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria C. Sison, for his part, said the proposal is just an excuse for the military to get additional budget. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras