The AFP must be on the offensive vs. the NPA

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - November 27, 2018 - 12:00am

Exactly 39 years ago today, when I was only 25 years old, I lost my father Atty. Jesus “Lindong” Avila due to a stroke. He was flying to Manila from Hawaii when he had a stroke. The stewardesses laid him on the floor and called for an ambulance so when the plane arrived at the Manila International Airport (MIA), he was the first passenger to be brought out of the plane. Actually, I was outside the MIA Terminal and noticed that passengers from Hawaii were already exiting and it was then that I learned what happened to my father. An ambulance brought him to the Makati Medical Center.

I rushed to the hospital to see my father unconscious, but breathing. After two days, he passed away. It was a difficult time for me as we bid him goodbye a month earlier. After a week of vigil, we buried him. My father was only 59 years old and now, I’ve gone for 39 years without a father. Being in Manila for four days and having a funeral vigil for a week took a toll on my law studies. So when I went back to school, Dean Fulvio Pelaez told me to go back to third year. Wow, just a week and USC stopped me from taking my law studies.

I didn’t get to finish my law course. But as luck would have it, when my firstborn daughter Fara decided to settle down, he married a future lawyer, Atty. Jennoh Tequillo, and I became a journalist. I guess God always has better things in store for us!

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We read in the news that the elite Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) will be deployed in regions identified by President Rodrigo Duterte as areas where “lawless violence” is rampant. Well, I guess, it’s about time. 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. The PNP commando group would form part of the government security forces deployed in Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental and the Bicol region. There is no doubt that Negros Oriental and Occidental have been hotbets for NPA activities since the peace process was stopped.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said that the 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.

Of course the Bicol areas and the Island of Samar are also NPA hotbeds. At this point with the PNP using the SAF troops, it gives them a huge advantage over the NPAs, plus the fact that the military and police have state-of-the-art military hardware and equipment.

However, I dare President Duterte to issue a timetable as to when each infested province would be nuetralized from NPA activity. We know too well that the NPAs rely on surprise and stealth to fight the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and I dare say that we should use the same kind of tactics that the NPA uses.

Actually, this is where former General Jovito Palparan did his best in fighting the communists. But the National Democratic Front (NDF) then filed kidnapping charges against Palparan, who is now serving a long sentence at the National Bilibid Prison. I dare say to Pres. Duterte to give Gen. Palparan a pardon and allow him to work as an adviser to the AFP.

In the latest news, Pres. Duterte said that he eyes changes in the AFP and we can only hope these changes would mean a dramatic reduction in the activities of the CPP/NPA/NDF. Let’s accept the reality that today’s type of military intelligence is a huge leap compared to the military intelligence just five years ago. It is high time for the AFP to show its gains against the NPA in the countryside!

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For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@gmail.com. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.

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