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AFP seeks additional troops, P3.5B to quash insurgents

by AJLPP Tuesday, Jan. 08, 2008 at 7:05 PM
ajlpp_socal@yahoo.com 213-241-0906

President Arroyo yesterday said she is merely awaiting the recommendation of Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro to approve the proposal of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) leadership to beef up its strength by six battalions to bolster the government’s campaign to stamp out the decades-old local communist insurgency. Presiding over the first AFP Command Conference of 2008 at Camp Aguinaldo yesterday morning, Mrs. Arroyo listened intently to the presentations of the military brass, led by AFP Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon Jr. on the insurgency situation and other threats to national security. Esperon reported to the President that the AFP needs six more battalions and P3.5 billion to implement its “unified command” program. In addition to the six battalions, the AFP hopes to constitute 20 more Cafgu (Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit) companies to help the military fight insurgency in the countryside.

RP Updates

AFP seeks additional troops, P3.5B to quash insurgents



01/08/2008

Manila-- - President Arroyo yesterday said she is merely awaiting the recommendation of Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro to approve the proposal of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) leadership to beef up its strength by six battalions to bolster the government’s campaign to stamp out the decades-old local communist insurgency.

Presiding over the first AFP Command Conference of 2008 at Camp Aguinaldo yesterday morning, Mrs. Arroyo listened intently to the presentations of the military brass, led by AFP Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon Jr. on the insurgency situation and other threats to national security.

Esperon reported to the President that the AFP needs six more battalions and P3.5 billion to implement its “unified command” program.

In addition to the six battalions, the AFP hopes to constitute 20 more Cafgu (Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit) companies to help the military fight insurgency in the countryside.

The AFP said “unified commands” are “units that incorporate or consolidate Army, Navy, and Air Force efforts in a given area. They are operational units as differentiated from major services which are force providers.”

It added under the unified command structure, headquarters “Army/Navy/PAF produce the troops, train the troops, equip the troops, while the unified commands use and deploy the troops.”

Mrs. Arroyo said she would authorize the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to release P1 billion, even as she directed the AFP to investigate reports on so-called “ghost Cafgus.”

Esperon said despite the enlistment of 70 Cafgu companies, the AFP still managed to save on personnel expenses last year.

Mrs. Arroyo said the government is operating on a reenacted budget as the bicameral conference committee of Congress has yet to iron out certain provisions of the 2008 national appropriations measure.

She said she will discuss with Teodoro the full range of the AFP’s requirements for the “unified command” before the DBM can release the allocation needed to make the proposal operational.

According to the AFP, the local communist rebellion has fallen to its lowest level in 20 years with fewer than 6,000 active guerrillas operating throughout the country.

Membership of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) New People’s Army (NPA) had fallen by 1,400 or 20 percent in 2007 to 5,760, senior military commanders told Mrs. Arroyo in a security briefing.

“This is the lowest strength level for the NPA in 20 years,” AFP spokesman Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro told reporters yesterday after the briefing.

He said the NPA’s influence had been neutralized in 202 villages while 13 “guerrilla fronts” — a term referring to shadow governments administered by the rebels around the country — “were dismantled,” reducing the total to 87.

Mrs. Arroyo last year called on the military to substantially degrade the NPA’s capability in the key provinces around Manila, which together with the capital account for more than half the country’s economic output.

Philippine National Police chief Avelino Razon said there would be “improved, closer cooperation and coordination” by the military and the police to fight the NPA and its mother organization, the CPP, which he said “continues to be the main threat as far as national security is concerned.”

Bacarro said Mrs. Arroyo ordered the AFP to “accelerate its momentum of successes against threats to national security.”

He said military operations in the South, where Filipino troops are receiving training from US Special Forces advisers, have also degraded the threat of the Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic militant group blamed for the country’s deadliest terrorist attacks.

Abu Sayyaf membership fell to 383 from 452 at the end of 2006, and the group’s operations have been “contained” on the southern island provinces of Basilan and Sulu, Bacarro said.

The government has been observing a three-year ceasefire while pursuing peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which had waged a decades-old Muslim separatist campaign in the southern Philippines.

“We have also reduced the level of armed incidents with the MILF,” Bacarro said. PNA and AFP, with Gina Peralta-Elorde

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