Monday, January 3, 2011

Only 3 guerrilla fronts destroyed by AFP in 2010

Only three guerrilla fronts of the New People’s Army had been dismantled by the Armed Forces last year, and the military attributed this dismal accomplishment to its being occupied with preparations for the May 10 and Oct. 25 elections.

This number of guerrilla fronts dismantled is way below the military’s self-imposed target of 23 fronts demolished in 2010. 

As of end 2010, the NPA’s guerrilla fronts decreased to 48 from the 51 it had in 2009, the military said. 

Worse, the military itself reported in May last year that it had dismantled two guerrilla fronts during the first quarter — which means that the only a single front was dismantled for the three remaining quarters of 2010.

Figures released by the military also indicated that the actual number of NPA rebels has decreased by 591 to 4,111, down from 4,702 reported at the end of 2009. 

The military said that over half of the 591 “neutralized" rebels had surrendered and availed of the government’s social integration program.

At its peak in the 1980s, NPA had 25,000 fighters and organized hundreds of fronts in virtually all of the country’s provinces. 

In its budget proposal submitted in 2010, the military said it was aiming to dismantle 26 guerilla fronts in 2011.

Not dismal, but remarkable

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) however, brushed aside any self doubt, saying that its performance wasn’t really dismal. 

“If you will look at it, its not really poor performance," said AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta. 

“It’s remarkable, taking into consideration all the significant events which transpired (in 2010)," he said.

He also said the military was not that concerned anymore with the actual number of guerrilla fronts dismantled, saying that the more urgent task was for soldiers to “actually get more people on our side." 

Mabanta said that the military in 2010 had been taken up with preparations to secure the conduct of the presidential and local elections in May and the grassroots elections in October. 

This had hampered the conduct of combat operations against the communist and other insurgents, he claimed. 

“At a certain point it (preparations) did (hamper us) because we refocused our operations and our priority from internal security operations to election-related activities," Mabanta said.

Meanwhile, Mabanta said President Benigno Aquino III was slated to give his instructions to the military on how to implement the new counterinsurgency plan, Bayanihan during Monday’s command conference. 

The military will implement Bayanihan, which replaced the previous four-year Oplan Bantay Laya II, until the end of Aquino’s term in 2016. 

Before the President presided over the command conference at the Navy headquarters in Manila, he led the assumption ceremonies of Rear Admiral Alexander Pama, who took over as the Philippine Navy’s Flag Officer-in-Command. — DM/KBK, GMANews.TV

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