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New AFP chief's 'top priority': Enforcing the Anti-Terror Law

Under its new chief Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will prioritize implementing the Anti-Terrorism Law and President Rodrigo Duterte's order to end the communist insurgency.

"Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, we will see to it that the implementation of EO No. 70 and the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 will remain our top priority to place a definitive end to terrorism," Gapay said in his assumption address delivered in Camp Aguinaldo on Monday, August 3.

He added: "There will be no letup as we continue to be at the forefront confronting all these threats."

Why does this matter?

Gapay's commitment signals the priority of the AFP in his brief stint of 6 months as AFP chief. He is set to retire in February 2021.

The law he has vowed to implement is not without controversies. The Anti-Terror Law has been criticized for its vagueness, which human rights defenders and legal luminaries have warned could be used to stifle dissent. At least 21 petitions against the law have been filed with the Supreme Court.

Other priorities

Gapay vowed to continue the AFP's acquisition of new equipment for the troops. The Philippines continues to have one of the weakest armed forces in Asia.

The new chief also said that he believes "there is peace in progress." With this, he assured other government agencies that they are prepared to assist them in their programs as much as they can, particularly the government's infrastructure and social relief programs.

"Whatever challenges lie ahead, be it territorial integrity, terrorism, the wrath of nature, or even infectious diseases, we shall not falter," he said. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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