By Francis Wakefield
The Philippine Army (PA) through its ground forces has been unrelenting in the conduct of security operations in consonance to the government thrust and pronouncement of no less than President Duterte to finish-off the communist terrorist and other threat groups to pave the way for sustaining peace and development in the country.
In a statement, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Louie Villanueva, said that since the cancelation of the peace talks last year, 6,709 armed communist-terrorists and sympathizers have already surrendered and 288 assorted firearms were also seized.
In the case of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and Maute, the troops’ effort resulted in the capture and surrender of 96 personalities.
Villanueva said the proclamation of the extension of martial law in Mindanao conspicuously contributed to the success of the military operations.
“Significantly, as part of the AFP’s effort to prevent and counter violent extremism in Mindanao, various Army major units have succeeded and gained ground with recovering of loose firearms in 2018. There was a massive surrender of loose firearms which is a good indication of the people’s willingness spearheaded by local government units for the attainment of peace in the region,” Villanueva said.
‘It is also worthy to note that during the entire implementation of martial law there was no single incident of abuse reported by Army soldiers,” he added.
Villanueva said most people in Mindanao were vocal in expressing their gratitude for the implementation of martial law as it provides them comfort and safety to pursue their daily chores. Business groups appreciate the way the military conducts their operation as this provided them confidence and sense of security.
According to the latest survey of the Social Weather Station, the Army has garnered +72 net satisfaction rating, with one-point decrease compared to the 2015 survey result conducted by the Club Media Asia Inc. Meanwhile, it gained a record-breaking 9 points increase on its net trust rating from only +75 in 2015 to +84 this year.
Specifically, the Army gained the highest trust rating in Mindanao at +87 compared with the National Capital Region at +85, Balance Luzon at +83, and Visayas at +81. Notably, the highest number of surrenderers came from Mindanao.
“The Philippine Army as the main force provider of the Armed Forces of the Philippines fully supports the commander-in-chief on his thrusts and advocacies to totally eliminate the CPP-NPA-NDF terrorists and the other threat groups. Due to intensified military operations, there was a significant increase in the number of surrenderers particularly from the CPP-NPA terrorists,” Villanueva said.
“These victories can also be attributed to the response and cooperation of the community as well as the local leaders imbibed with the idea that security is a shared and everybody’s responsibility,” he added
On the other hand, Army chief Lt. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista assured the troops that the command has in its priority and working ardently to provide the necessary combat essentials for them.
He also lauded the troops for their untiring efforts and dedication in protecting and serving the people.