By ROGER M. BALANZA
A military spokesman in Southern Mindanao said defeating the communist insurgency by 2010 is realizable but urged a two-pronged approach one of which requires support of the public and local officials.
Major Medel Aguilar, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Civil Relations Group, said President Arroyo’s timetable to reduce the New People’s Army to an inconsequential force by 2010 is a continuing campaign to defeat the 30-year old communist insurgency.
Aguilar, speaking on DXAB radio’s The Defender program hosted by James Galay on Sunday in Davao City, said the military campaign against the rebels needed the support of the public and barangay officials to succeed.
We have two battlefronts in the fight against communist rebels: the military front and the legal front, said Aguilar, whose unit supervises a counter-insurgency propaganda campaign in provinces considered as heavily-influenced by the New People’s Army.
Aguilar’s civil relations works covers the Caraga provinces and the Davao Region, where NPAs are waging renewed campaigns to recover lost territories. We can take charge of the military campaign but civilians and barangay officials should help us with information on presence of rebel forces in their areas, said Aguilar.
His call for public assistance in the anti-insurgency campaign comes as four barangay officials were killed by NPA rebels in Davao City, Davao del Sur and in Compostela Valley this month for being allegedly assisting police and military.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, former chair of the Regional Peace and Order Council, has urged barangay officials not to be involved in the fight against the rebels following the killing of a barangay captain in Paquibato district, where rebels have a strong presence.
Compostela Valley Governor Arturo Uy has made the same call after a barangay captain in the province was also shot dead by rebels.
But Aguilar said the anti-insurgency campaign is everybody’s business as rebels not only wanted to destroy the military.
The communist rebels are after the entire government, after the established political infrastructure that includes the barangays, he told DXAB. Medel said communist rebels have established a “shadow government” to take over once the government is crippled.