By Aaron Recuenco
Police forces in Mindoro and nearby provinces are now preparing for the takeover of anti-insurgency operations from the military following the significant reduction of communist rebel forces in the region.
Chief Supt. Emmanuel Luis Licup, director of the MIMAROPA (Mindoro Occidental and Oriental, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) regional police, said he had already met with top local military officials to discuss the preparations and operational strategies against the remaining communist rebel forces.
“Among those discussed during the meeting were the assessment and evaluation of the police mobile forces in terms of its personnel, equipment, training and other zone considerations,” said Licup.
Several areas in the region, according to Licup, were identified as pilot areas of the implementation of operational strategies on how the police would be able to defeat the communist rebels without the military help.
MIMAROPA, one of the poorest regions of the country, used to be one of the strongholds of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Luzon.
But it all changes especially with the assumption of then military general Jovito Palparan who is credited for the significant reduction of NPA forces particularly in Mindoro provinces.
He, however, was accused of violation of human rights that include the alleged torture and disappearance of two students of the University of the Philippines (UP).
Licup said they will be in constant coordination with the military on how to effectively carry out the operations to hunt down the remaining NPA forces and eventually declare the entire region as free from communist rebels.
“The meeting and coordination is very important to determine the police’s capability to respond not only in the field of criminality but eventually in the field of internal security as we now prepare to take-over the Internal Security Operations (ISO) from the military,” said Licup.
In the past, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is being eyed as the replacement of soldiers in communist rebel-infested areas in order for the military to focus in western part of Mindanao and external defense.
But such goal is always being marred with equipment and training issues on the policemen, what with past studies that most cops are having marksmanship problems.
President Duterte earlier approved the recruitment of five more battalions of the police’s elite Special Action Force (SAF) to maximize police role in internal security operations.
The Duterte administration, however, is optimistic on the resumption of peace talks between the government and communist rebels. (Aaron Recuenco)