AFP ready to resume offensive after truce

THE ARMED Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is set to resume its offensive operations against New People’s Army (NPA) rebels on Tuesday once the 18-day long bilateral Yuletide truce between the government and rebels lapses on Monday.

The AFP has announced a suspension of offensive military operations (SOMO) starting last Decemeber 16 which was reciprocated by communist rebels and will end on Monday.

The 18-day long ceasefire – the longest declared by both sides in decades, had some minor glitches as both sides accused each of violating the truce.

The military will resume its operations even as AFP Spokesman, Brig. General Jose Mabanta described that NPA rebels posses “no longer major threat to the national security, but to the nation’s economic development’.

Mabanta said that the military is still looking forward for a negotiated ceasefire with local communist especially with the implementation of the new Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan.

The AFP spokesman said by midnight of January 4, the AFP will lift its SOMO against communist rebels and the military will now revert back to its normal operations.

“We have taken advantage of the time to strengthen our defenses and get more intelligence information so by tomorrow evening… we should be ready to start our operations,” Mabanta said.

The AFP spokesman said that AFP Chief, General Ricardo David Jr. has issued instructions to see if all military forces are in place before the termination of the Yuletide Truce.

“Unless we remove the threat, the Philippines will continue to be a sick man of Asia… the AFP is looking forward to a negotiated peace when the GRP and NDF panels resume its meetings by February,” Mabanta said.

“For 2011 we want to pursue peace negotiations with NPA and MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front)… all of this are in line with the instruction of President Aquino,” Mabanta said.

The AFP spokesman said IPSP Bayanihan is a joint effort by the AFP and all stakeholders, which will also be the one to see to it that the security plan is properly implemented, adding that this is an open document that is also open to changes.

“It is a work in progress so they can help us now. It’s not complete if those from the left are not included in it, we will ask them to join us. . .they may have some solutions to the problems of the nation,” said Mabanta.

“We have to move on and continue development. . At this point we look at the CPP-NPA-NDF as no longer a major security threat but rather a threat to economic development,” Mabanta explained.

However, the AFP Spokesman said that as far as terror groups like the Al Qaeda-inked Abu Saayyaf Group (ASG) is concerned, “there is nothing left but [their] destruction and neutralization.” Anthony Vargas

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