Gov’t security officials tackle steps vs terrorism, insurgency

Published September 23, 2020, 6:04 PM

by Aaron Recuenco 

Top government security officials met Wednesday to discuss plans and strategies to effectively address the terrorism and insurgency problems in the country in a race to end internal security problem before President Duterte steps down from office in 2022.

Gen. Gilbert Gapay

Gen. Gilbert Gapay, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said the purpose of the meeting is to review and update the government’s plan to address internal security, particularly threats from the local terror groups headed by the Abu Sayyaf Group and other extremist groups with links to international terrorism and from the local communist groups.

“We are here to review, evaluate to strengthen the partnership, and improve the plan which we have so that we would beat the deadline set by our President which is to end all these local armed conflict posed by the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army) and the local terrorist groups before his term ends in 2022,” said Gapay.

The Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Center (JPSCC) meeting held in Camp Crame in Quezon City was attended by Gapay, Philippine National Police chief Police Gen. Camilo Pancratius Cascolan, and other top military and police officers.

High-ranking officials, former police and military generals, and others witnessed the ceremonial signing of the directive and resolution, including Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Secretary Hermogenes Esperon, and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) Director General Alex Paul Monteagudo.

“Basically this is evaluating the international security operations. We need to have other contingency plans. In doing so, we will be able to come up with more innovations so that we would be able to muster actually our initiatives and come out with the best results which is zero insurgency,” said Cascolan.

“We will be forging a lot of partnerships, we will be doing a lot of initiatives. We will be seeing us together with the AFP more often. We will be very visible together and soon enough we will be able to come up with joint exercises like simulation exercises that we have to do even the legal and offensive stance,” he added.

In the meeting, military and police officers signed Joint Letter Directive No. 03, Series of 2020, or the “Guidelines in Evaluating the Effectiveness of Internal Security Operations in Support to the National Thrust to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.”

In 2017, the PNP and AFP also signed a joint resolution on the creation of the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACOLA) during the 20th National JPSCC Meeting. The accord has established stronger collaboration of ongoing and future efforts of the national government in addressing threat groups and local insurgency in the country.

“The main objective is to get our acts together, to improve some more our performance and we are focusing on the joint AFP-PNP campaign plan. We have identified gaps already and we have already remedial measures lined up and they are already for implementation by our operating units on the ground,” said Gapay.

“There will be a lot of involvements. most especially with regard to the delineation of responsibility of the DIPOs (Directorate for Integrated Police Operations (DIPO). They will be the focus on anti-insurgency and we will be the focus unit that the AFP will be cooperating with,” said Cascolan, for his part.

Cascolan had earlier ordered the active participation of DIPO in the campaign against local insurgency and terrorism by placing some elite forces of the PNP under its command.

DIPO has five areas of operations — Northern Luzon Southern Luzon, the Visayas, Eastern Mindanao, and Western Mindanao. This is patterned after the five major area commands of the AFP.