PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde directed the deployment of one company or about 100 police commandos to each area mentioned under Memorandum Order No. 32.
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PNP to deploy SAF vs ‘lawless violence’
Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - November 26, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The elite Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police (PNP) will be deployed in the regions identified by President Duterte as areas where “lawless violence” is rampant.

PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde directed the deployment of one company or about 100 police commandos to each area mentioned under Memorandum Order No. 32.

Albayalde said the PNP commando group would form part of the government security forces deployed in areas of Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental and the Bicol region.

President Duterte issued MO 32 ordering the deployment of additional troops to some parts of the country as part of the government’s measure to suppress “lawless violence.”

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said MO 32 reinforces guidelines under the state of national emergency on account of lawless violence, citing “a number of sporadic acts of violence” happening recently in the provinces.

The areas where more soldiers will be sent include Samar, the Negros provinces and Bicol region to “suppress lawless violence and acts of terror” and “prevent such violence from spreading and escalating elsewhere in the country.”

The three Visayas provinces and Bicol are areas heavily infested by communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

“That is initially our response in compliance with the memorandum order, which we fully support as part of the security sector of our government,” PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Benigno Durana Jr. said.

Durana said the number could still change depending on the result of a meeting sometime this week with their counterparts in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“We can pool our resources in order to make sure that we will nip in the bud the evil intentions and activities of terrorist groups in the places identified in MO 32,” he said.

The deployment of police commandos will put additional muscle to the territorial police units in the four areas ahead of the founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Dec. 26.

Durana said the CPP, through the NPA, is notoriously known to celebrate its anniversary by committing atrocities.

It is also their way to force the government to return to the negotiating table, according to the police official.

“It is their attempt to twist the arm of the President to engage them once again, to resume peace talks,” Durana said.

The presence of SAF troopers will also help in maintaining peace and order during the conduct of the midterm elections next year. Durana said there is a possibility the four areas will be included in the list of election hotspots.

“There are indications that they may be included in the final list,” he said.

The AFP, for its part, will be meeting with officials of the Department of National Defense (DND) to discuss how it will implement MO 32.

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said details of MO 32 will be looked into to determine how best to carry out the deployment.

“We defer our further comments on that issuance until we sit on a meeting… to discuss MO 32 and to hammer down the details on how we will operationalize its provisions on the ground,” Arevalo said in a statement yesterday.

“Suffice it to say that we support the intent of the MO as it envisions to suppress lawless violence and acts of terror and to prevent such violence from spreading and escalating in other parts of the country,” he added.

Arevalo said the AFP fully supports the President’s directive and effort to counter lawlessness in some parts of the country.

“We say we support MO 32’s intent primarily because to protect the people and secure the state is the AFP’s constitutional mandate,” he stressed.

Prelude to martial law

Vice President Leni Robredo welcomed the deployment of police and military in “lawless” areas under MO 32.

Robredo, however, expressed alarm over the use of the term “lawless violence” in the memorandum order.

The Vice President warned the term “lawless violence” could be used as basis for declaring martial law.

“We don’t have any objection on the augmentation of police and members of the AFP, this is a very welcome news to us,” Robredo said in her radio program over dzXL.

She said the MO 32 might be a prelude to a nationwide martial law declaration.

“Many are worried about the use of the term lawless violence. Because lawless violence is one of the grounds in declaring martial law,” Robredo said.

Robredo said she is also worried about the apparent rise of insurgency under the present administration.

“The government must answer why insurgency worsened in the last two years,” she said.

Robredo said insurgency problem has “almost been addressed” by the previous administration, noting that communist insurgency was rampant during the time of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

But it continued to drop during the terms of former president Corazon Aquino, up to Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III.

“During the last administration, there were almost none, if ever there were cases, these were isolated skirmishes,” Robredo said.

The CPP, on the other hand, claimed Duterte’s order to deploy more troops is martial law in the making.

“Duterte’s exercise of de facto martial law powers is based on the flimsy 2016 declaration of a state of national emergency to supposedly suppress lawless violence,” the CPP said.

The CPP said MO 32 will surely lead to the further worsening of the state of military and police abuses and attacks.

The CPP said Duterte’s deployment of more troops to suppress the NPA is counter-productive and self-defeating.

“The aim is to use overwhelming force against the peasant masses and the guerrilla forces of the NPA. However, by committing widespread abuses against the people and imposing martial law across the countryside, the AFP is succeeding only in rousing the people to take up arms and join the NPA,” the CPP said.

The CPP-NPA has been waging its insurgency for 50 years that is estimated to have claimed the lives of over 50,000 people.

The AFP has estimated the NPA’s strength at over 11,000 fighters.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former PNP chief, said communist rebels staged several deadly attacks against state security forces that showed Jose Maria Sison, founder of the CPP, was not in control.

Lacson said it would be better off to ignore Sison since he had no control over the communist rebels.

 “My attitude is not to listen to him (Sison) because he’s already out of touch,” Lacson told dzBB in Filipino.

“He has no control (over his forces) on the ground. But he gets a cut of the extortion activities on mining firms, telcos when they put up cell sites, and during campaign, they (communist rebels) ask for permits to campaign (from candidates) and they remit to Utrecht his share—that’s his only participation. The fighting is here while he enjoys a comfortable life there,” he said.

Lacson gave the advice after Duterte last week asked Sison to present a draft final peace agreement to possibly jumpstart talks. – With Michael Punongbayan, Helen Flores, Paolo Romero, Jose Rodel Clapano

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