By Martin Sadongdong
Lieutenant General Felimon Santos Jr., newly designated Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), is determined to finish off the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA) before the end of President Duterte’s term in 2022.
Santos pointed out that crushing the CPP-NPA will be his priority as the 53rd AFP Chief, and the seventh under Duterte’s administration since 2016.
“Our first plan is to continue our campaign plan to end local armed conflict because it is gaining grounds,” Santos said after the change of command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on Saturday afternoon.
He said he sees an end of the five-decade old insurgency before Duterte steps down from his office.
“We will end that before the end of the President’s term,” Santos underscored.
To do that, Santos bared in his acceptance speech that he will use all the resources, manpower and firepower of the military on the remaining Communist rebels “who insist on not giving up the armed struggle inspite of the goodwill shown to them by the administration.”
“We will immediately neutralize those who insist on seizing political power through armed struggle,” he said.
The Philippine government (GRP) has been dealing with communist rebellion for 51 years already, the longest-running insurgency in Asia.
But towards the end of 2019, President Duterte opened the doors for the possible revival of the peace talks with the CPP-NPA and its legal front, the National Democratic Front (NDF).
At present, the GRP and the CPP-NPA-NDF (National Demoractic Front) have been engaged in a series of informal talks prior to the start of the formal peace negotiations.
The GRP has declared a unilateral and reciprocal ceasefire with the CPP-NPA-NDF from December 23, 2019 to January 7, 2020 in the spirit of the holiday season, and to build a conducive environment for the resumption of the talks.