DAVAO CITY – Former intelligence officer and now army division commander, Major General Eduardo Año announced that he would concentrate his division to crushing the communist movement in Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley.
Año, new Army’s 10th Infantry Division commander, appeared for the first time in the Regional Development Council meeting on Thursday, and disclosed his plan to focus military operations in the two provinces where he said the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the NPA, are concentrating.
“We will intensify our effort and focus on military operations there. We believe that this is the base of the Communist Party,” he said, adding that the operations will include deployment of more peace and development teams in poverty-stricken barangays.
“We are increasing our presence there. Presence of the government will be more in the area, with emphasis on clearing the barangays and bring services to the people,” the general said.
He said the NPAs are concentrating on tribal areas such as Kapalong and Talaingod, and in mining areas, He said
the CPP’s Southern Mindanao Region Committee are strong in the “SR 2” covering Compostela Valley and “SR4” covering Davao del Norte and southern Bukidnon.
The Eastern Mindanao Command, where the 10th belongs, estimated the NPAs to number 2,000 in Southern Mindanao.
Prior to his stint here, Año was head of the Intelligence Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), which was credited for the arrest of CPP leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon in Cebu. His confirmation as ISAFP chief was bypassed twice however, due to his alleged involvement in the disappearance of peasant activist Jonas Burgos in Southern Luzon.
RDC chairperson, Davao del Norte Gov. Rodolfo del Rosario concurs that the communist movement “remains a challenge with their presence in many barangays in Southern Mindanao”.
“At risk here are 13 percent of our barangays in the region,” del Rosario said.
He said the police and the military in the region “need more training and facilities to increase their capacities in handling these forces”.
The RDC presented its peace and development targets for 2016 including the reduction of the number of insurgents by 80 percent and reduced number of atrocities by insurgents by 90 percent.
Peace advocates such as the Philippine Ecumenical Platform of the Philippines and Ecumenical Bishops Forum said that government should reopen talks with the CPP to resolve the roots of the armed conflict.
Human rights group Karapatan and the indigenous peoples group Pasaka pointed at continued military operation for continuing human rights violations, with fears of it increasing further as the military recruits members of the tribes into paramilitary units. (davaotoday.com)