Department of National Defense (DND) secretary Delfin Lorenzana believes that while the government’s efforts to address insurgency has positive momentum, ending the decades-old conflict will take more time.
During the joint DND-Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) command conference on Tuesday, the Defense chief said that the government forces are targeting to defeat insurgency within the year but it is unlikely that the goal of finishing the 50-year-old menace will be met.
The defense said that latest estimate showed that the NPA still has around 4,000 armed fighters and about 50,000 militias or supporters throughout the country, but Lorenzana stressed that the government has attracted 11,000 surrenderees last year –1,000 of whom were active NPA fighters.
“This insurgency has been going on for the past 50 years and we cannot end it in one year. Our target now is within the remaining three years of President Duterte’s presidency, maybe we can do it,” said Lorenzana.
“It’s attainable with the way we are doing now, with our localized peace talks and the E-CLIP (enhanced comprehensive livelihood and integration program). With huge number of surrenderees, we can do it in three years,” he added.
For his part, AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. said that the military can defeat the armed insurgents, but addressing it completely will need the help of other government agencies.
“We can address the armed group but ending insurgency is more than just addressing the armed group, it includes conflict-resilient communities…other agencies will have to help us,” said Madrigal.