Palace touts strong military, livelihood aid in ending insurgency

Malacañang on Thursday expressed optimism about ending communist insurgency in the second quarter of 2019, saying the government has a combination of both a stronger military force and livelihood programs for members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who would lay down their arms and surrender.

“Kombinasyon po ‘yan — ‘yung patuloy na pakikipaglaban sa kanila at patuloy na pag-eenganyo na mag-surrender ang mga nanlalaban sa ngalan ng Communist Party of the Philippines (It’s a combination of continuing to fight with them and continuing to encourage them to surrender),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing.

He made this remark after President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday said he sees the NPA’s defeat by the second quarter of 2019, noting the huge number of rebels returning to the folds of law.

“I think that kung maawa ang Panginoong Diyos (if God will be merciful), this will be over by about the second quarter of next year. Ang rami na kasi nagsu-surrender (There are many of them surrendering),” Duterte said in a speech in Malacanang. “I think we are winning the war finally.”

Roque said the government has already given several rebel returnees safety, financial assistance, and livelihood for turning themselves in.

At the same time, Roque said the government is in the process of modernizing the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“It’s a combination of both, plus the fact that the people will know that the President was given the mandate to address the root causes of rebellion and he has been doing so,” Roque said.

Roque also assured that all government policies are directed to address the root causes of poverty and promise NPA fighters “a new lease on life.”

Meanwhile, Roque said the executive order for localized peace talks with the NPA has already been drafted by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

“There’s a draft already, it’s a matter of getting it issued. Siguro tinitingnan ng (Perhaps it is being reviewed by the) Office of the Executive Secretary because it was prepared by OPAP,” Roque said.