Oplan Bayanihan calls the use of the “people-centered approach” a paradigm shift or a “new” strategy for the AFP.
To achieve its goal, the AFP says it will be guided by two “strategic imperatives” and four courses of action called “strategic concepts”. The two strategic imperatives are “Adherence to Human Rights/International Humanitarian Law and the Rule of Law and Involvement of all Stakeholders”.
The four strategic concepts or courses of action are “Contribute to the Permanent and Peaceful Closure of all Armed Conflict” which stresses the “primacy of the peace process”; “Conduct of Focused Military Operations” against threat groups; Support Community-based Peace and Development Efforts” and lastly, “Security Sector Reform (SSR)”.
Grand deception and continuing violence
Oplan Bayanihan is a grand psy-war scheme that aims to continue state-sponsored violence against the people, this time with more reliance on deception and cooptation.
Bayanihan is a tacit admission of the failures of the previous Oplan Bantay Laya, especially in terms of its military objectives of defeating the armed rebellion in the country.
Bantay Laya has also been exposed as the framework by which extrajudicial killings and abductions of unarmed activists have been carried out in the name of internal security operations. The previous ISP was responsible for the bloody human rights record of the AFP under Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
The so-called paradigm shift however is not entirely new, nor is it an innovation of the AFP. Bayanihan uses concepts lifted from the US Counter-Insurgency Guide of 2009 formulated by the US Inter-agency Counter-Insurgency Initiative which includes the US Department of Defense, US State Department and the USAID.
The US COIN Guide of 2009 defines counter-insurgency as the “comprehensive civilian and military efforts taken to simultaneously defeat and contain insurgency and address its root causes”.
“Best practice COIN integrates and synchronizes political, security, economic, and informational components that reinforce governmental legitimacy and effectiveness while reducing insurgent influence over the population”.
“COIN strategies should be designed to simultaneously protect the population from insurgent violence; strengthen the legitimacy and capacity of government institutions to govern responsibly and marginalize insurgents politically, socially, and economically”.
The use of a multi-stakeholder approach supposedly to “win the peace” and promote “human security” only means the AFP will more frequently employ non-combat military operations alongside combat operations as well as non-government efforts alongside government efforts. The end goal is control over the population and environment through deception and suppression. By embarking on so-called “developmental work”, the AFP hopes to “win the sentiments” of the people and “leverage” them against the revolutionary forces.
The so-called thrusts and “strategic guidance” made by the commander-in-chief namely good governance, delivery of services, sustainable development, and security sector reform; are also inspired by the US COIN guide. These fall under the counterinsurgency model’s “functional components”: economic function, political function, security function and information function. The end goal is the “control of the environment”.
The US COIN guide describes these elements as follows:
The political function is the key function, providing a framework of political reconciliation, and reform of governance around which all other COIN activities are organized.
The economic function seeks to provide essential services and stimulate long-term economic growth, thereby generating confidence in the government while at the same time reducing the pool of frustrated, unemployed young men and women from which insurgents can readily recruit.
The security function is an enabler for the other functions and involves development not just of the affected nation’s military force, but its whole security sector, including the related legal framework, civilian oversight mechanisms and judicial system.
Read second part here.