Lorenzana backs Duterte's decision not to bomb NPA camps
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana expressed support to President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision not to bomb camps of the New People's Army (NPA).
“The DND (Department of National Defense) fully supports the President’s decision not to employ a purely military solution to ending the communist insurgency in the country,” Lorenzana said in a statement issued on Friday night.
In his speech in Masbate last Wednesday, President Rodrigo Duterte said he has been preventing the military to bomb NPA camps as it may result in civilian casualties.
“If there are only no civilians, the problem could have been resolved a long time ago. I would just drop the bomb," said Duterte.
The president also mentioned that he just want the military to help the government convince the rebels to return to the folds of the law.
"Just surrender. I will give you land. I will place the land first under land reform and I will build you houses," Duterte said.
Following Duterte’s statement, Lorenzana stressed the efforts of the ground troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in pursuing local peace initiatives.
“Working closely with local government units, we are actively pursuing local peace initiatives such localized peace talks, community support and development, and promotion of good governance, as well as the implementation of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Programs or E-CLIP which helps former rebels start their lives anew by providing financial, livelihood, and educational assistance, psychosocial support, and housing,” he said.
“While focused military actions will weaken their armed component, it is the promise of a better life for their families that drives their members to return to civil society and the fold of the law,” he added.
Despite the decision of the president not to bomb NPA camps, Lorenzana emphasized that the military is targeting to significantly reduce the strength of the NPA into a simple peace and order problem within the remaining term of the present administration.
“While it will be very difficult for the government to completely eradicate the communist’s armed component to the last man, we believe that we have enough momentum, support and resources to render the CPP-NPA-NDF strategically and politically irrelevant by 2022,” he said.
“By the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term, the NPA will be reduced into a purely police problem of running after robbers, criminals, arsonists, and extortionists,” Lorenzana noted.
“Without their armed component, the CPP will become just like any another political party whose only chance of taking over government is by winning in an election, something that the Filipino people will never let happen because their hands are stained with the blood of thousands of Filipinos they have sacrificed in the altar of a discredited and failed ideology. (Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman) Joma Sison and his cohorts abroad will just become footnotes in history, and will soon be forgotten,” he added. Robina Asido/DMS