DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines will continue with an “enhanced” anti-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, an official here said Tuesday.
Maj. Ezra Balagtey, spokesperson of the army’s Eastern Mindanao Command told DavaoToday in a phone interview that AFP’s chief of staff Lt. Gen. Eduard Año will announce the counter-insurgency program in time for the AFP’s 81st founding anniversary on Wednesday.
“The unilateral ceasefire declared by our president was definitely factored in. After all, our plans will always be in accordance to our president’s desire to a lasting peace for our nation,” he said.
He emphasized that the new anti-insurgency has factored in the ongoing peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
An army general who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the matter told The Standard that the new program was a product of assessments of Oplan Bayanihan.
“In general, the AFP will not be veering away from the concept and strategic objective of Oplan Bayanihan. The AFP will be making a big difference though when it comes to broadening the participation of all stakeholders toward progress and development,” the general was quoted by The Standard.
The new program is set to replace the Internal Security and Peace Plan Bayanihan, enacted during the term of former President Benigno S. Aquino III.
Balagtey said that the program will most definitely geared towards achieving lasting peace.
“I can definitely see it that way, that is our thrust. After all, the AFP is still under the leadership of the President being the commander-in-chief,” he added.
But Jay Apiag, spokesperson of human rights group Karapatan in Southern Mindanao, said they expect the AFP’s new anti-insurgency program to result to more human rights violations.
He added the various “peace and development programs” pursued by the past regimes would best illustrate how dismal the military’s sham peace programs were implemented by the AFP in the communities.
“From 2010 to 2016, we have documented six years of human rights violations that happen in communities where the army conducts its peace and development programs. Peace will never be achieved through those programs, especially because this new chief of staff is among the top violators of human rights,” Apiag said. (davaotoday.com)