The Philippine Army yesterday justified the continued implementation of civil military operation activities, especially in the insurgency-affected areas, saying it helps address the problems and grievances aired by the people.
Former Negrense priest-turned-rebel leader Luis Jalandoni, chairperson of the National Democratic Front negotiating panel, in a statement, has called on the banning of the AFP’s Civil Military Operations in the hinterlands, days before the start of the resumption of peace talks between the Philippine government and NDF in Norway, next week.
Jalandoni had claimed that "in many barangays, the CMO operations, under the Community Organizer for Peace and Development, had AFP troops harassing the communities, threatening the residents who resisted being recruited into the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit, listing them as ‘sympathizers’ of the NPA and putting in on the Armed Forces order of the battle."
Army spokesman, Col. Antonio Parlade, said the NDF wants to ban the activities of peace and development teams because the outreach activities will help address the problems and grievances of the people, thereby depriving them of mass support.
Parlade said soldiers took upon themselves to act as catalysts for change, when other government agencies are hesitant to address the problems and issues in some communities threatened by the NPA.
He said the Armed Forces will not succumb to the NDF demand. “It is not an option and never will be for the AFP to stop CMO,” Parlade stressed.
Maintaining that the AFP is ready, willing, and able to adhere to the peace talks, Parlade challenged the NDF to show some sincerity to put an end to the 40-year-old armed conflict.*GPB
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