The military is spending approximately almost half of its budget in the campaign against the New People’s Army (NPA), whose membership has been placed to be between 3,700 and 5,000 armed fighters.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been allocated with P195.4 billion for 2018, and almost half of the amount was allotted for the military’s internal security operations (ISO).
“The budget of the AFP is almost pointed toward counter insurgency and anti-terrorism efforts. Ammunition expenditure, casualties, equipment damages, everything is on our operations,” Military Public Affairs Office Chief Col. Noel Detoyato said.
“So, practically, the AFP budget is spent on our operations to keep the peace by keeping at bay all peace spoilers,” he added.
Former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, who retired in April this year, has pegged the membership of the NPA to 3,700 up to the end of 2017.
But Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana has put it to almost 5,000, owing to what he claimed as the recruitment of members by the rebels during a previous lull in the peace talks.
The government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) was supposed to officially resume the negotiations on June 28, but President Duterte decided to postpone it for 3 months in order to give way to consultations by the government.
The period, the government panel said, would also allow Duterte to review all the agreements that have been signed with the NDFP.
Detoyato said that since half of the forces of the military is focused or deployed against communist rebels, then half of its budget is also being spent on counterinsurgency.
“That’s a ballpark figure based on the [number of] troops and units that are in NPA areas,” he said.
Aside from operations, portions of the military’s P195.4-billion budget are also allotted for salaries and maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE). It also includes a P27-billion capital outlay.
Meanwhile, Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations Col. Edgard Arevalo said that the military has recorded a total of 681 armed encounters with the NPA from June 1, 2017, up to June 25, 2018.
“Since 2017 our record shows that there was a downward trend in enemy atrocities,” Arevalo said.
“For year 2017, we have recorded a total of 455 communist terrorist group incidents, while on the first semester of 2018, that’s January 1 to June 25, 2018, we have monitored 112 incidents,” he added.
Arevalo said that the “focused” anti-insurgency operations resulted in the surrender of 6,659 members of the NPA, including regulars, members of the militiang bayan and their supporters.
The military spokesman did not say as to how many NPA regulars made up the 6,659 figure since the number far surpassed the NPA membership as claimed by both Guerrero and Lorenzana.
Arevalo said that the military seized a total of 736 firearms from the operations against the rebels.