Saturday, January 18, 2014

AFP making significant headway in internal peace and security operations


The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is making significant gains in its ongoing Internal Peace and Security Operations (IPSO) and Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) "Bayanihan."

This was disclosed during Friday's command conference conducted by AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista with senior military leaders in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. 

During the meeting, the AFP disclosed that the New People's Army (NPA) miserably failed in achieving its goals bound on its "5-Year Central Plan," which was supposed to end in 2013. 

The rebels' unsuccessful plan of expanding their mass base support during the five-year period was shown by the fact that the AFP was able to normalize 16 more provinces last year from the NPA influence. 

This brought the latest overall success to 43 provinces, including Pampanga, out of the 64 NPA-affected provinces nationwide (56 percent of the total).

Also, a total of 824 NPA personalities were neutralized and 425 firearms were seized by the military in 2013.

Concerning the Rogue Moro National Liberation Front Elements (RMEs), the AFP was able to neutralize 502 RMEs, with 208 killed, 24 surrendered, and 270 captured/apprehended during the defense of Zamboanga last September. 

A total of 324 firearms were also recovered.

On the government side, the AFP suffered 197 casualties -- 20 killed in action and 177 wounded in action, while 195 hostages were safely rescued.

The RMEs do not represent the whole MNLF, which is supportive of the peace process in Mindanao, therefore the AFP is ensuring that the peace process is not hampered or disrupted by these rogue elements, the AFP chief said.

During the incident in Lahad Datu, Sabah last February 2013, Bautista said the AFP deployed ground, air and naval assets against armed followers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram to prevent spillover and assist displaced persons.

Against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the AFP continued the conduct of its focused military operations to contain the threat in few areas. The AFP was able to effectively limit the BIFF's capability to sabotage or derail the ongoing GPH-MILF Peace Process.

The AFP chief added that efforts against spoilers of the peace process are being done in line with the AFP’s continued commitment to support the ongoing peace process between the Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

"Currently, peace talks with the MILF are progressing well as we are in near realization of forging a final peace agreement with the group," he said.

Bautista added that the two parties have already signed three Annexes (Transition Modalities; Wealth Sharing; Power Sharing) while the last Annex on Normalization is still being negotiated.

Proving the success of supporting the peace process is the government’s gains from the Closure Agreement with the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA). 

Last year, the military was able to integrate 168 CPLA members in the AFP. In the process, 403 firearms were also turned over to the armed forces while the government’s livelihood assistance project "PAMANA" was launched in the Cordilleras.

One of the essential factors of the AFP’s success is the military’s continued adherence to Human Rights, the International Humanitarian Law, and the Rule of Law. Alleged human rights violations went down by 88 percent, with only 11 cases in 2013 from 96 in 2010.

Among the significant humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) operations conducted by the AFP in coordination with other National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) member agencies were: the active HADR response as part of the "first responders" in the Zamboanga crisis, Bohol earthquake, and typhoon "Yolanda."

The AFP’s participation in the disaster relief operations in "Yolanda"-affected areas reached as high as 25,526 personnel who were directly involved in the HADR operations. 

In addition, all available strategic lift and mobility assets from the major services were utilized. AFP units were organized under the Central Command for HADR mission in coordination with the NDRRMC and foreign military contingents.

As this developed, the Civil Society Organization-led "Bantay Bayanihan" says the AFP is gaining ground and can potentially gain more ground if the IPSP "Bayanihan" is sustained. 

Further, the AFP has generally enhanced trust among peace and security stakeholders, especially in the provinces.

Perception of security in communities is notably enhanced when there is increased transparency; accountability; communication lines being opened; openness to cultural sensitivity; adherence and respect for human rights, international humanitarian law, rule of law; and multi-stakeholder engagement.

They also recognize that IPSP is planting seeds. Seeds do not grow to trees and bear fruit overnight. They have to be nurtured and sustained to flourish.

Despite the election period and the calamities and disasters that struck the country last year, the AFP was able to accomplish much.

For this year, the AFP is fully poised to vigorously conduct internal peace and security operations to meet the objectives of IPSP "Bayanihan."

“We must consolidate our gains and sustain our momentum. In the face of any challenge, the cohesiveness of the entire AFP will always be our best assurance,” Bautista said.

Article Source: PNA

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