AFP on Duterte’s move to scrap talks with Reds: ‘It’s the right thing’

Robie de Guzman   •   March 22, 2019   •   3022

File photo: Members of the New People’s Army

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Friday (March 22) that cancelling the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) was the right move.

“Dapat lang. 31 years of deceptive ploys using peace talks, across five administrations, only resulted to more terrorist NPAs being released, an opportunity for the CTG (communist terrorist groups) to recruit and recover lost areas of influence, publicity for Joma [Sison] in the international arena as a ‘dove,’” AFP deputy chief of staff for civil-military operations Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr. said in a message sent to media on Friday.

Parlade added that the decades-long peace process “wasted government funds spent for negotiations and junkets, opportunity losses for investments and development because of prolonged and intermittent fighting.”

“They had their best chance when peace was offered again to them by PRRD [President Rodrigo R. Duterte], offering Cabinet posts in good faith for them to help in good governance but they blew it by attacking projects, killing society forces, and even innocent civilians,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday permanently ended the peace negotiations and told the communist rebels to just talk to the next administration.

Malacañang followed this up with an announcement that a new panel will be created to pursue localized peace talks with communist members on the ground in line with the government’s new whole-of-nation approach to end the 50-year armed struggle.

READ: Gov’t to create new panel for localized peace talks

But for CPP founder Jose Maria Sison, there is nothing new in Duterte’s latest move to scrap the peace talks with the Reds, likening him to “an old broken record.”

“As far as the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) is concerned, Duterte formally killed the peace negotiations on Nov. 23, 2017 with his Proclamation 360 terminating them,” Sison said in a statement released Thursday evening (March 21).

The communist leader added that Duterte was just “merely driving more nails into the coffin of the peace negotiations under his regime.”

He also claimed that the President only wants to implement fake localized peace process controlled by the military, instead of negotiating with the CPP national leaders.

“Instead of peace negotiations at the national level by the duly-authorized panels of the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and the NDFP, what Duterte wants is fake localized peace negotiations staged and controlled by the military and military-occupied Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Peace Negotiations,” he said.

But according to AFP, Sison was just trying to muddle the issue to conceal his panic over Duterte’s decision.

AFP Spokesperson Marine BGen Edgard Arevalo said in a statement that Sison is well aware that local peace engagement has been immensely successful.

“Mr. Sison has the temerity to call President Duterte ‘stupid’ for thinking that government will be successful in attaining peace by engaging NPA (New People’s Army) Commanders and fighters on the ground instead of the CPP-NPA’s national leadership,” Arevalo said.

“Mr. Sison consistently calls localized peace talks as a “waste of people’s money”, “cheap trick”, “absurd and stupid”, and by other deriding terms. He moves heaven and earth to prevent it because it will further relegate him to history’s dustbin,” he added.

The AFP official said that since January 2018, more than 11,000 NPA fighters and sympathizers have returned to the government’s fold after realizing that they have been deceived.

“But enough is enough. 50 years of duplicity, deceit, and murder of thousands of his comrades on mere suspicion of being military informants or have expressed desire to go back to mainstream society must stop,” Arevalo said.

He also called on anew to communist rebels to come out of hiding and take advantage of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Programs being offered by the current government.

“They should follow the lead of their comrades who stopped being menace to society and are now experiencing a life free from hunger, fear, and uncalled for perils fighting government. They should take advantage of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Programs,” Arevalo said. –— Robie de Guzman

AFP to send ships, planes, 2 battalions for repatriation of OFWs

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 8, 2020

The Department of National Defense (DND) said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will send two ships, three planes, and two battalions for the repatriation of overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) in the Middles East.

DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the two landing ships can accommodate 500 persons each. They will also send two C130 and a C295 planes.

Lorenzana clarified the two battalions will be deployed to assist Filipinos who will return to the country as tension continues to rise between the United States (US) and Iran.

“The two battalions will not be there to engage in combat with anybody, but to facilitate or help assist in the repatriation of the OFWs especially in Iraq. Hindi sila magpunta doon para makipaglaban, (they will not be sent there to fight)” Lorenzana said.

The Defense Secretary also said they also considering to use cruise ships and commercial airlines to accommodate more Filipinos returning home.

Meanwhile, the BRP Gabriela Silang of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is set to sail in the Middle East to assist in the repatriation.

Lorenzana also raised concerns over Filipinos who will refuse to leave the Middle East and said it will be a challenge.

“Some Filipinos do not want to leave their job. Kasi sabi nila, ‘anong gagawin natin sa Pilipinas?’ (because they will say ‘what will they do in the Philippines?’) But hopefully, we will be able to convince them—kung medyo delikado iyong buhay nila (if their lives are in danger)—to come home,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

AFP ready to deploy if gov’t orders evacuation of Filipinos in Middle East

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 6, 2020

Iranians attend the funeral ceremony of Qasem Soleimani, the late Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General and commander of the Quds Forces, in the city of Tehran, Iran, 06 January 2020. Soleimanil was killed in a targeted US airstrike on 03 January 2020, in Baghdad, Iraq.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced on Monday (January 6) that it is prepared to deploy its air and naval assets once the government orders the evacuation of Filipinos in the Middle East.

AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. said they have already laid out their contingency plan to President Rodrigo Duterte.

“The indicators will be determined. Pag-uusapan namin ng national government (we will discuss it with the national government) the go signal is from them especially with the DFA with all the inputs,” he said.

Among the air and naval assets available include the C-130s as well as new frigates that are able to travel to the Middle East.

The AFP chief of staff added they are still improving their plans due to the possibility that tension might spread in neighboring countries of Iran.

“We are improving our plans not only on Iran and Iraq but the whole Middle East. We don’t know; it might spread to other countries, especially if you know the history of the war. It might spread to Israel. There are probabilities like that,” he said.

Meanwhile, the AFP is monitoring a possible retaliatory act of Iran in countries allied with the United States (US).

It is also monitoring local terrorist groups who might sympathize with the Iranian militia.

“Siyempre mayroong sympathetic, either by race or by ideology, so the PNP [Philippine National Police] is profiling possible threats, possible groups who may take advantage or who might share sympathies (Of course, there will be those sympathetic, either by race or by ideology, so the PNP is profiling possible threats, possible groups who may take advantage or who might share sympathies). So our intelligence monitoring will be continuous up until medyo luminaw na iyong problema doon sa Middle East (until the problem in the Middle East clears up),” Santos said.

Tensions between the U.S and Iran rose following the death of Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani on January 3 after the US launched an airstrike on an airport in Baghdad, Iraq.

President Rodrigo Duterte called for an emergency meeting in Malacañang on Sunday (January 5).

This is to determine the possible effects of the rising tension on thousands of Filipinos in the Middle East especially in Iran and Iraq.—AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

Incoming AFP Chief ensures tighter security in Mindanao despite Martial Law termination

Maris Federez   •   January 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Incoming Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff LtGen. Felimon Santos, Jr. believes that the people in Mindanao have welcomed the change that the termination of Martial Law has brought to the region.

He said that the military has explained very well to the local government units in Mindanao who had been initially closed to the idea of lifting the Martial Law on why it should no longer be extended further.

The official also ensures that the security in the region will be tightened even more, with checkpoints and regular soldiers on patrol still in place.

“I assure them na kahit walang martial law our security measures are in place even we will enhance pa yung security to ensure na walang mangyari,” said Santos.

Former Sulu governor, Abdusakur Tan, Sr. agrees.

“Nakikita na nag-iimprove dahil pag lagi tayong nasa martial law ibig sabihin magulo,” he said. — (from the report of Dante Amento) /mbmf

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