The military expects more areas grappling with communist insurgency to undergo 'normalization' this year and vowed to work closely with civilians to make it possible.
Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said once a province is declared normalized, the lead role of maintaining peace and security would be transferred from the military to local governments.
He said an area has undergone normalization if local governments and other civilian stakeholders are already active in addressing the causes of rebellion and if insurgency has weakened due to such efforts.
“The root causes of insurgency should be solved not by the military alone but by everyone,” he said.
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), however, refuted this outlook and even claimed that the military’s security plan Bayanihan has failed.
“As 2013 ends, we can conclusively declare the defeat of the Aquino regime’s Oplan Bayanihan which failed in its declared aim of reducing the armed strength of the New People’s Army (NPA) to inconsequentiality by the middle of this year,” CPP said in a statement.
The CPP said its fighters would continue to “undertake more frequent tactical offensives.”
“This year, every NPA command must gun for a record increase in the number of weapons seized from the reactionary military, paramilitary and police forces,” the group said.
Bayanihan, which took effect in 2011, seeks to end insurgency by curbing its roots like poverty and lack of access to basic services.
The first three years of the implementation of the security plan will focus on addressing internal armed threat groups.
The final three years of Bayanihan, which starts this year, will be devoted to handing over the lead role in ensuring internal peace and security to civilian government agencies. Such turnover will allow the military to focus on its transition towards territorial defense.
Zagala believes the military would be able to accomplish the requirements in the security plan.
“We’re optimistic that we will be able to make it,” Zagala said.
“They (rebels) are against our way of life, our democracy, our freedoms and institutions. We should cherish them by protecting them and we can do so by finding solutions in our own way,” he added.
He said 29 of 81 provinces have undergone normalization due to the military’s anti-insurgency campaigns.
These are Cavite, Marinduque, Romblon, Guimaras, Cebu, Siquijor, Biliran, Bohol, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Aklan, Antique, Eastern Samar, Apayao, La Union, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Kalinga, Nueva Viscaya, Quirino, Nueva Ecija, Aurora, Benguet, Batanes, Camiguin, Misamis Oriental, South Cotabato, Saranggani and Davao Oriental.
The CPP, however, claimed that the mass struggle against the government would intensify this year due to supposed worsening economic conditions and corruption.