Military shifts tactics against NPA

Published by rudy Date posted on March 12, 2009

THE Armed Forces vowed yesterday to use conventional military power to defeat communist guerrillas instead of waging an “ideological war” with the rebels, in a major policy shift.

The new approach aimed to significantly weaken one of the world’s longest-running Maoist insurgencies within two years in the capital Manila and the provinces surrounding it, the Armed Forces said.

The doctrine was laid out at an ongoing military conference by Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, the Army said in a statement.

Teodoro reportedly said the 5,200-member New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, must be the focus of the counter-insurgency campaign, rather than the rebels’ political arm.

Under this new strategy, the military would pursue the communists and “never allow them to perpetuate any criminal act such as kidnapping, arson and murder,” the statement quoted Teodoro as telling senior military officials.

A military presence would be stepped up “in areas where there is an existence of armed movements,” it added.

The insurgency relies on extortion of local businesses and politicians to support its operations.

Those that refuse to pay up so-called “revolutionary taxes” are punished by the burning of telecommunications towers, buses and mining and construction equipment.

The communists have also stepped up kidnappings of soldiers and police in recent months. The military says the rebels also murder local officials who refuse to cooperate.

“What the military needs to do is to concentrate on the armed groups such as the New People’s Army, not the front organizations,” Teodoro said.

He stressed that the “previous approach of fighting an ideological war is wrong,” the statement added.

The old military strategy was to combat the communists’ infiltration of political parties, non-government organizations, trade unions and student groups.

President Arroyo hopes a weakened Maoist movement will have the knock-on effect of the economy growing faster and funds now poured into internal security being freed. AFP

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