MANILA, Philippines – Newly appointed Philippine Army chief Major General Eduardo Año has set what is perhaps the most ambitious target set against the 4-decade-old communist insurgency in the Philippines.
The veteran intelligence officer, who has scored big wins against the New People’s Army (NPA) throughout his career, vowed to diminish the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) from their current number of about 4,000 armed regulars down to “less than a thousand scattered all around.”
He said he will accomplish this in 2016 upon the target completion of the military’s Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan or before he steps down in October 2017.“It’s at tall order. But I think we can do it,” Año said after he formally assumed the post on Wednesday, July 15.
“The objective of the IPSP is to defeat the CPP/NPA by the end of 2016. Defeat does not mean there’s no more NPA but that we have reduced them to inconsequential level,” Año said.
He boasted of his accomplishments as chief of the Davao-based 10th Infantry Division, a unit of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom).
Davao NPA leader Leoncio Pitao, better known as Kumander Parago, was killed in clashes with his men.
The Eastmincom areas, where about half of the NPA strength is concentrated, will be his priority. He will send the best commanders there, he said.
“Your army will always respect the primacy of peace. But make no mistake, we will remain to be a lethal force capabale of striking down any threat to our nation,” Año said in his assumption speech.
It was also when he was chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) that CPP/NPA leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon were arrested.
Retired Army General Jovito Palparan, who is facing criminal charges for the disapperance of two University of the Philippines students, was also arrested under his watch.
Año himself is accused of committing human rights violations.
He was accused of being behind the disapperance of activist Jonas Burgos, son of the late press freedom icon Jose Burgos.
He vowed that there will be no violation of human rights in his watch.
Año replaced Lieutenant General Hernando Iriberri, who assumed his post last week as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
They are mistahs (classmates) in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1983. – Rappler.com