President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had given kudos to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) for a job well done in waging war against the “communist insurgents.” This, even though as late as 2006, government was pointing to the communist-led New People’s Army (NPA) as a “major threat to national security.”
BY NOEL SALES BARCELONA
Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 46, December 23, 2007 – January 5, 2008
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had given kudos to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) for a job well done in waging war against the “communist insurgents.”
This, even though as late as 2006, government was pointing to the communist-led New People’s Army (NPA) as a “major threat to national security.”
In her statement published in the official website of the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS), she said that the total strength of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) has been halved.
Due to this, the chief executive called on Congress to restore the P1 billion (US$24,022,267.81) Kalayaan Fund that was slashed off by lawmakers during the deliberation on the 2008 national budget. The said fund was supposed to be used to “restore” war-torn areas due to the war against the “insurgents.”
“We ask the Congressional Bicameral Conference Committee to reconsider restoring the original amount of the Kalayaan Fund which finances the infrastructure programs in conflict-ridden areas that ordinary contractors do not want to touch,” said Arroyo in her speech before the members of the AFP, in line with the celebration of the 72nd founding anniversary of the institution.
The president pointed out that the special infrastructure program is significant to the success of what she called the “soft-power strategy” in fighting the communist “insurgency” which started in the early 1970s.
According to the data mentioned by the president, from 12,000 fighting NPA guerillas in 2001, it was reduced to 6,000 by the consistent and persistent military operations under the Operational Plan (OPLAN) Bantay Laya (Oplan Freedom Watch).
“At the rate we are going, we will put an end to the insurgency by 2010,” said Arroyo.
Besides the reduction of the number of the NPA guerillas fighting, Arroyo also announced that the communist guerilla fronts were also reduced—from 107 guerilla fronts in 2005, it is now only 87.
“The communist rebels, have spent years as a low-level threat (and that) it is time for their disruption and violation of human rights to be put to rest so that the nation can move ahead,” the Chief Executive added.
“They impede the progress and development of a number of rural areas. They are responsible for a wide range of human rights abuses. If we are to become a first world country, we have to put a stop to their ideological nonsense and their criminal acts once and for all,” Arroyo stressed.
However, the president admitted that the way to peace is not through the barrel of a gun but instead it begins with providing people with “jobs, food on the table and human dignity.”
“Central to that success is to invest in the people—in education, healthcare, roads, bridges and schools. We are making those investments and it is working,” furthered Arroyo.
On the other hand, the revolutionary Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), congratulated its own forces in successfully launching an ambush against a unit of the Philippine Marines last Dec. 16 and urged all other units of the NPA to launch more tactical offensives against AFP units and “other armed enemy forces” that continue to intrude into revolutionary territory and “conduct military operations against the NPA and the revolutionary masses.”
In the morning of the said date, troops from the Marine Battalion Landing Team 9 were ambushed by an NPA unit in Barangay (village) Binga, San Vicente, Palawan. Three soldiers were killed in the ambush.
“[It] was a necessary course of action in the face of continuing offensive military operations by the AFP and the Arroyo regime’s hypocritical declaration of a sham 22-day unilateral ceasefire which supposedly started (December 15),” CPP spokesperson Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal said in a statement.
“The Palawan ambush shatters the peace pretensions of the Arroyo regime and its armed forces,” said Rosal.
The communist leader lambasted military spokesmen Col. Bartolome Bacarro, for making it appear that the ambushed marine forces were unarmed because they are were in civies.
“Marine soldiers are definitely always armed—with handguns, at the minimum—when they step outside their detachments and camps especially in known areas of operations of the NPA, even when they go out to prepare supplies for their military operations,” Rosal said.
“Those Marines were ambushed for their armed transgression into known revolutionary territory,” Rosal added.
He also warned units and elements of the government armed forces not to enter revolutionary territory without explicit permission from revolutionary authorities. Otherwise, he said, they are always legitimate targets of NPA tactical offensives.
Rosal urged NPA units nationwide to carry out more tactical offensives.
“Carrying out more frequent and widespread tactical offensives against weak enemy armed forces is a most effective way of defeating the continuing campaigns of suppression of the AFP,” he said. Contributed to Bulatlat