Army’s 3ID: We’re right on track in toppling insurgency
By all indications, the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) is on its way of accomplishing its mission to topple insurgency to an insignificant level by June 30, 2010, the deadline given by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Since the instruction was given, 3ID commanding officer Major Gen. Vicente Porto said, they have been continuously following the directive to meet the task at hand.
On top of that, Porto said that they have accomplishments to prove that the insurgency in the islands of Panay and Negros will be brought to an inconsequential level by June 30.
Stressing that they have attained their goal, the 3ID chief explained that “being irrelevant does not mean that we would totally wipe out the opposition or the NPA rebels. As I’ve said, by being irrelevant, we have lost their will to fight. Sila ay nagla-lie-low at sila’y halos hindi na nanggugulo.”
Based on the parameters set by the higher headquarters, there are other areas within the 3ID jurisdiction that rebels have lost their will to fight.
“In some other areas, marami na ang nag lie low,” Porto said.
Another proof, he added, was the increasing number of applicants in the government’s Social Integration Program (SIP).
The SIP is a project initiated by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) to support the AFP’s efforts through its Balik-Baril program and aims to provide former rebels with the needed resources to reintegrate themselves within the mainstream populace.
Those who avail of the program will receive a cash reward for their surrendered firearms, undergo a Livelihood Skills training Seminar, and receive Livelihood Benefits in Capital Goods worth P50,000 each.
“Ibig sabihin, marami ang nag-su-surrender. So, I think we’re on the right track,” Porto said.
As it is, the 3ID chief said that the June 30, 2010 is very much attainable.
“At least here in our area, nararating na natin. Hindi man natin naubos but the indications are there... may may mga nag-su-surrender, may mga nawawalan ng will to fight at meron ding nag la-lie-low. Those are indications that we are on the right track na nagagawa namin ‘yung iniatas sa amin na maging irrelevant sila by end of June,” he said.
With the reports of the alleged split-up in the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), Porto is hopeful that it will contribute to the rebels’ eventual disbandment.
Following the acknowledgment of the provinces of Aklan and Guimaras as insurgency-free, the Army said that it won’t be long before other areas will also be declared.
For now, there are only a few areas in Iloilo which are being tightly watched for the presence of rebels, Porto said.
“Ang Capiz, ang area na lang ng Tapaz, Dumarao, Maayon, and Cuartero. Sa Antique, isa na lang ang aming binabantayan, ang San Remigio. So, pagkatapos naming mag concentrate, ang 301st Brigade, pag nag concentrate sa mga areas na ‘yan in the succeeding months, sigurado na mapapabilis natin ang pagsunod sa instructions na ibinigay sa atin ni Presidente,” he added.
As to the existing guerrilla fronts, Porto is confident that it could be diminished in 2010.
“Actually, we are studying some fronts in 3rd Division area and the outcome was that they have been diminished. We are just validating our information. There are some areas in Negros and also in Panay,” he added.
Based on the statistics covering the period 2007-2010, Porto noted a big drop in the rebels’ number.
There is also a remarkable decline in the number of firearms and rebel-affected barangays in the region. “Kung titingnan natin, mula January hanggang June, sasabihin natin na maliit pero baka may law of diminishing return, so natuto na rin silang umiwas. Natuto na rin silang maghanap ng lugar kung saan sila ay safe but there is a sudden drop,” he said.