Thursday, May 31, 2012

Military: Bayanihan gains overshadowed by lapses

MANILA, Philippines - The military yesterday admitted that the accomplishments of its troops have been overshadowed by some lapses in the planning of combat operations. In its assessment of the first year of the Bayanihan security plan, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the lapses have led to blunders, some of which have claimed the lives of soldiers. “It is unfortunate that such gains were overshadowed by lapses in joint planning of combat operations, resulting (in) blunders like (the attacks) in Taganito Mining in Surigao (del Norte), Patikul, Sulu; Al-Barka (in Basilan) and in Zamboanga City,” the AFP’s assessment paper read. Communist rebels des-troyed at least P1.2 billion worth of property when they attacked three mining firms in Surigao del Norte last October. On the other hand, the attack in Patikul, Sulu by Abu Sayyaf terrorists left seven Marines dead in July last year. Another military setback during the first year of Bayanihan was the killing of 19 soldiers by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Al-Barka, Basilan last Oct. 18. The Zamboanga Sibugay attack staged by lawless elements, meanwhile, left eight soldiers dead. “The AFP is a big organization and mistakes still happen,” the assessment paper read. The AFP said it has made “headway” in its fight against the Abu Sayyaf but a “clear methodology” on how to isolate it from its traditional allies and mass base “is still wanting.” The military also noted that the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the communist rebels, continues to launch violent attacks against civilians. “We call on the government peace panel and civilian groups to continue to exert social pressure to bring the National Democratic Front to the negotiating table,” the AFP said. Another challenge being confronted in the implementation of Bayanihan is the supposed lack of focus of some civil-military operations or development projects. “Our timeframe is until 2016. I am very confident we should be able to win the peace within that timeframe. We can resolve the issues and our problems through a peaceful manner rather than fighting each other,” said Army chief Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista. - By Alexis Romero