Finishing communists in one year 'farfetched': Lorenzana
Despite the extension of martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2018, National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana admitted finishing the communist group within the year is not possible.
“To finish the communist terrorists in one year is farfetched. It’s a tall order and we may not be able to do it but we are trying to do is to degrade their capability to conduct large scale attacks to degrade. So our operations will be a combination of combat operations plus development in the countryside,” Lorenzana told reporters in an ambush interview after the New Year’s Call in Camp Aguinaldo Tuesday.
“Maybe towards the end of 2018, we will know if there’s a need for martial law or not but as of now we cannot say that (recommendation for another extension of martial law) yet,” he added.
In another interview, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Rey Leonardo Guerrero emphasized that the military is aiming to reduce the strength of the New People’s Army (NPA) into half within the year.
“We intend to reduce that number by half for 2018,” he said.
Guerrero said based on their latest data the strength of the NPA is now at 3,700.
Lorenzana said government forces are monitoring the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)- National Democratic Front (NDF) officials who were released on bail in 2016 by the government to join the peace process.
“We are monitoring them. We will wait for the order of the president. If he ordered the arrest, then we are going to arrest them,” he said. Robina Asido/DMS