As “peace talks” get no traction, Philippine government war on people’s resistance slated to expand

Revved-up counterinsurgency

AT GROUND LEVEL, by Satur C. Ocampo (The Philippine Star) | January 19, 2013

“I am now in a position to influence the implementation of (Oplan) Bayanihan as chief of staff because I now become its operational commander. Unlike when I was the CGPA (commanding general of the Philippine Army), I had a limited role as the force provider. But now I will have a direct hand in the implementation of Bayanihan.”

Thus declared Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, who became AFP chief last Thursday, regarding the Aquino government’s six-year counterinsurgency program for which he is credited as key author. Basically the program is lifted from the 2009 US Counterinsurgency Plan applied in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One can gather from his statement both a sense of relief and gratification: relief from frustration, as Army commander having had an ancillary or “limited role as the force provider,” and gratification for finally being put fully in-charge of implementing his own plan.

Hence the go-go spirit exuded by Gen. Bautista. He told the press he would “hasten the tempo” of the AFP’s 44-year-old campaign against the Left armed revolutionary movement, with the end-goal to “render irrelevant” the NPA and its armed struggle.

Going by the timeframe of Oplan Bayanihan, officially known as the Internal Peace and Security Plan, Bautista has to work really hard and fast. (His stint as AFP chief ends on July 20, 2014.) The plan calls for the “substantial completion” of the end-goal within the first three years of the program, or in 2011-2013.

This is because within 2014-2016 the AFP aspires to relinquish its lead role in counterinsurgency “to appropriate government agencies” so that it can “initiate its transition to a territorial defense-focused force.” Continue reading