By Jennifer P. Rendon
The head of the Philippine Army vowed to conclude its fight with the New People’s Army (NPA) this year.
The original plan had been to reduce the NPA to a negligible level before the end of the term of former President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We were given the target by the former President Duterte. Sabi niya sa amin na dapat tapusin niyo ang giyera bago ako bumaba. Dahil sa challenge ni Pangulong Duterte, napablis po ‘yung pakikipaglaban pati na rin ‘yung accomplishments natin against the communist terrorists,” Lieutenant General Romeo Brawner, Philippine Army commander, said.
But Brawner said they were unable to totally stop the rebel movement.
“But of course, we’re working hard so that probably by the end of the year, matapos na ‘yung giyera,” he said.
Brawner was in Capiz on Sunday, February 26, to preside over the turnover of command ceremony at the 3rd Infantry Division based in Camp Macario Peralta in Jamindan town.
The Philippine Army chief has regarded Samar and Negros Island as the remaining bastions of the terrorist group.
Brawner cited Davao, which is now insurgency-free.
“Dito na lang talaga sa Visayas na marami pa tayong kalaban,” he said.
Brawner said they are very thankful to the local governments in the area and even the citizens because they have been very helpful.
“They have been very cooperative to the security sector so that we will be able to finally defeat the communist terrorist in the country,” he said.
Brawner is confident that with the new leadership of the AFP Visayas Command and the 3rd ID, the government could accomplish its mission, which is to defeat the communist terrorist group.
Lieutenant General Benedict Arevalo took over the VisCom leadership last month while the 3rd ID is now under Brigadier General Marion Sison.
‘Yan ang challenge natin sa kanila: tapusin na ang giyera,” he said.
Given the accomplishments of Philippine Army units nationwide, including the 3rd ID, that goal is very achievable.
“Malapit na malapit na siya. And I hope, all stakeholders will join us in this fight. We need the whole-of-the-nation approach to tackle insurgency. After all, security is everybody’s responsibility,” Brawner said.
He added that Executive Order No. 70 has been a big help in achieving an insurgency-free country.
“It’s been a big boost to our campaign because it institutionalizes the help of the different sectors of society, even the private sector,” Brawner said.
Signed on Dec. 4, 2018, EO 70 is about “Institutionalizing the Whole-Of-Nation Approach in Attaining Inclusive and Sustainable Peace, Creating A National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, and Directing the Adoption of A National Peace Framework.”