AFP ready to fight two-pronged campaign vs rebel, terror threats

MANILA — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday said it is ready to fight a two-pronged campaign against the New People’s Army (NPA) and various terror groups.

This was stressed by AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo, adding that ongoing operations now being conducted against the Abu Sayyaf and other lawless elements will not be affected by President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to terminate the ceasefire against the communist rebels.

“As of the moment, (operations against NPAs) will have no effect on the conduct of our operations in Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi against the terrorist group of the Abu Sayyaf and other terror group in Central Mindanao because we have sufficient personnel, equipment and units in these areas where the NPAs operate,” he noted.

“And second, it has been part of our plans to have contingencies, I mean to plan for contingencies in the event (that) the peace process will not succeed, ” Arevalo added.

The AFP public affairs office chief said the ceasefire, which took effect in August 2016 and suspended this February, gave the military an opportunity to have some breathing space.

He also said there is no need, at least for the moment, to pull back the additional forces deployed in Basilan and Sulu.

At present, Arevalo said, NPA combatants nationwide are estimated to be around 3,700 with half of them concentrated in the Northeastern Mindanao area. Priam Nepomuceno/