New AFP chief believes Davao region will be free from insurgency within 2021
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief Staff Lt. Gen. Jose Faustino expressed belief that the Davao region will be declared free from insurgency within the year.
"Right now, Davao region within the year, I am expecting that it will be declared insurgency free. Per my last check, the strength of NPA (New People's Army) has downgraded to around 3,000 to 3,200. when we graduated in 1988 they are in their peak of around 25,000 armed regulars, and we only have few remaining guerilla fronts," he said.
Faustino said during his first command conference as AFP chief of staff, he ordered the military to also ''finish'' the remaining guerilla fronts in the country.
"It was my instruction to finish this remaining guerilla fronts and armed groups, or the remaining armed NPA members within the year," he said.
Faustino said unlike before more people in areas with insurgency now trust the government.
"Before the rebels surrender to us, this time is different, Almost 70 to 80 percent, per my experience in Eastern Mindanao Command area, surrendered to the local government, meaning the trust of our people especially the indigenous people to the government has returned because of the whole of nation approach," he said.
The problem with the local terrorist group is at a "manageable level", Faustino expressed optimism that the military was able to transition its focus from internal to external defense within the term of the present administration.
"It is now in a manageable level within the year, with the peace process or the peace initiative we have with the MNLF, with the MILF and the advance clearing being done by the troops of the Western Mindanao Command in the islands of Basilan and Sulu,'' he said.
''It's just a matter of time and I'm very positive that within the term of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte we will be able to transition little by little to territorial defense," Faustino said. Robina Asido/DMS