THE top commander of the military acknowledged that good governance is the best weapon the government could use in its internal security operations, vowing that soldiers would work more with local officials in the concerted effort of ending the country’s threat groups.
“Good governance practices” and the “efficient delivery of basic services” create communities that are resilient to recruitment and other activities by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), said Lt. Gen. Felimon T. Santos, who assumed as the new chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Santos, who had headed the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command based in President Duterte’s home city of Davao, was installed on Saturday by the Commander in Chief as the new top military commander, succeeding retired chief of staff Gen. Noel S. Clement.
Santos noted how good governance had been successful in the campaign against communist rebels in Davao provinces and even in the President’s home city, which was practiced and implemented through a task force that was created through the Commander in Chief’s order.
“Executive Order 70 created the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and institutionalized a ‘whole-of-nation’ approach in attaining exclusive and sustainable peace,” Santos said during his assumption speech.
“Under Executive Order 70, all government agencies from the national, regional, provincial, cities, municipalities, all the way down to the barangay level are now involved and have delineated roles and responsibilities in this whole-of-nation approach,” he added.
In the past, the military commander said that the campaign against rebels had rested solely upon the shoulders of soldiers, with local chief executives leaving the insurgency problem alone to the AFP and the Philippine National Police to deal with.
“This multipronged approach addresses the motivation for insurgency, and will hopefully put an end to its treacherous life cycle. Government agencies and their corresponding units at all levels cooperate, interact support, provide practical solution, and solve problems and issues on the ground that are being exploited” by rebels,” Santos said.
“By doing so, there will be no reason for the CPP-NPA-NDF to agitate, organize and mobilize these vulnerable sectors and communities,” he added, noting how good governance that encompassed the whole approach had been potent in dealing with communists and their propaganda in Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental and Davao del Norte, and even in Davao City.
With local officials and government units taking shares in the anti-insurgency campaign, Santos said the military can now train its resources, manpower, and firepower to rebels and even members of other threat groups who chooses to fight the government.
“Likewise, the AFP will continue to be proactive against the local terrorist groups, such as the Abu Sayyaf and those groups who pledge allegiance to the Isis. We shall effectively counter their narratives through good governance, build community trust and earn the people’s respect,” Santos also said.