BRGY LIBAS, Isabela, Negros Occidental – The country’s Armed Forces chief, General Andres Centino sounded upbeat here today as rifle units of the 62nd Battalion based here routed Communist fighters under the Central Negros Front 1, the erstwhile mother front of the Communist Party of the Philippines in Negros island.
The Army general who assumed command of the country’s Armed Forces early this year, said Filipinos could see the end of the Communist insurrection started in the 1960s by a young Jose Maria Sison “possibly in our lifetime” and added that an end to the weakening guerrilla force in Negros could also be possible this year.
He, however, urged his troops to feel a “sense of urgency” as the rebels are now at their weakest after losing their leaders and mass bases that have also led to lack of resources.
We are seeing this and the same problem again and again but not as bad as before, Centino said in a message to soldiers here following an awarding ceremony to several officers for their gallantry in combat during the Guihulngan and Moises Padilla only last weekend that led to nine dead rebels, the surrender of two others, and the seizure of weapons, includimg assault rifles, and explosives.
Centino, who was referring to the seized weapons and contraband, recalled that he was assigned to Negros island as a young Army lieutenant.
The Army general also underscored the vital role of the government’s whole-of-nation approach in fighting the insurgents who once held sway in Negros island, among other major islands in the country, where it had hundreds of fighters at its peak in the 1980s.
The whole of nation strategy was instituted through President Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70 that led to the forming of the National Task Force-End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
Centino said this effectively led to the freeing of soldiers from tending to other tasks aside from combat as other government agencies are being involves in the fight against the rebels.
Before, the soldiers become engineers or teachers, too even in areas where rhey are supposed to focus on fighting.